Saturday, July 3, 2010

Draftland: Day 1

Believe it or not, we're not dead! Which means that we not only survived Draftland but also had lots of fun! Because the NHL Draft is secretly a blast! (Four out of five doctors agree! Or at least Soph's would, because the draft weekend bolstered her health, no joke!) Don't be fooled by the way the Draft looks on TV, slogging along for hours... It's really fabulous, and every diehard hockey fan should see it in person. Now, if you're thinking, "But I could give two pucks about prospects and picks and all that jazz," fear not! Soph and I were the exact same way. All you need to do is to read the draft preview issue of The Hockey News, and you'll find yourself telling the guy behind you, "The highest projected d-man? Cam Fowler, of course. He's supposed to go third." Once you make up your mind to go to the draft, you magically care about it. It's awesome.

However, Day One was quite overwhelming at first. Or at least it was for a skittish little gal like myself. When we rolled into the Staples Center, it was PACKED. Sharp-dressed young gents, important-looking people, and fans of every team (including orange-suited Oilers fans, resembling Lloyd Christmas) greeted us at every turn. When we actually attempted to find seats, the Roll Call began. Gary Bettman called out each team's name from the podium, and each team then announced who would be making their selections. Roll Call goes alphabetically by team, so it started with Anaheim... which drew a deafening chorus of boos from the Kings faithful. I practically jumped out of my skin, and the draft hadn't even started yet!

Seating was general admission, so we had to scratch and claw to find four decent seats in close proximity, but we finally did, with some help from a wonderful Kings usher! We settled in with a couple from Edmonton and a guy from LA there with his kids. Pops promptly befriended all of our neighbors, of course. We were near the Versus broadcast booth as well, so when I mused, "I wonder where Pierre and Mike Milbury are," Soph was like, "Um, right next to us!" Crazy.

Once the Draft got underway, there were few surprises. Taylor Hall to the Oilers (much to the Edmonton couple's glee), Tyler Seguin to the Bruins, blah blah blah. Soph and I had actually brought the draft preview issue of The Hockey News with us (like many of our neighbors!), so we pored over that and monitored things like the scandalous plummeting of Cam Fowler (who finally went 12th to Anaheim). While the first-round does crawl along at a snail's pace (four and a half hours to make thirty picks?! Am I running this thing?!), there's lots to distract you in person. There were a few trades to spike everybody's heart rates (Soph and I gasped over every one!), and they would play music and show Q and A's with the prospects in between picks. So everyone remained abuzz with draft day euphoria, despite the slow pace. We also had a fine time eavesdropping on our neighbors, which is where we heard this gem:

Guy #1: "What's a deke?"

Guy #2: "Dude, haven't you ever seen The Mighty Ducks?!?! The triple deke?"

Once we stopped laughing over that, we got a special dose of excitement when a beaming Soph returned from getting pretzels midway through the first round. (Clearly, we needed a Slightly Saucy runner to do such menial tasks!) When pressed for deets, she promptly exclaimed, "I just saw Sbisa! Out in the concourse!" Yes, former Flyer (and former love of mine) Luca Sbisa was at the Draft, cheering on fellow Swiss mister Nino Niederreiter, who went to the Islanders with the 5th pick. (They both played for the Portland Winterhawks, which, incidentally, was Coburn's junior team too! And approximately a million players were plucked from Portland in the 2010 draft, in case you were wondering.) Soph had spotted Sbisa on the big screen, hugging Niederreiter when he got picked, hence why she was so sure she had run into him. No word if he was headed to Wetzel's Pretzels too.

The Flyers, of course, didn't have a pick in the first round, so we made sure to applaud twice as loud for Charlie Coyle, the Sharks' first-rounder. Like everyone else in attendance, we also cheered for local boy Emerson Etem, who went to Anaheim with the 29th pick. (Hmm, I wonder where they got that pick from...) We really fancied Jack Campbell as well (even before we saw him strolling around outside with his team-issued duffel bag and hat), who was the top-ranked goalie and thus would have been a wise choice for the Flyers... had they kept any high picks! Also, Soph and Pops both independently came to the conclusion that he resembles Jeff Carter, so there's that.

After the first round ended, we perused the Kings' store (which is about 80 times the size of the Flyers' store... I guess housing the Lakers helps!) and stayed so long that we got booted out the back door... which conveniently spilled out onto a hidden area of restaurants and moonbounces and life-size pics of NHL players! Needless to say, we skipped around joyously in our hockey heaven. We want to stay in Draftland forever!

Of course, we returned bright and early the next morning for Draft Day Two... which held its own share of surprises! Stay tuned!


kelly said...

I love the overheard gem (for obvious reasons) :P

Jess said...

I immediately thought of you guys and our late-night D2 viewing! :D(Also, I LOVE your profile picture! Those are too beautiful to eat!)