My weekend at the NHL Draft
I went down to Columbus this past weekend for the 2007 NHL Draft with a good friend of mine. We got down to Columbus around 3pm on Friday afternoon and left around noon on Saturday. Here’s a brief run down of the fun things we did or saw including photographs after the jump…
We first got in line for the half hour long Rick Nash autograph signing. The guy in line behind us got interviewed by the local TV station and gave some really insightful quotes (note the sarcasm). It was a free autograph signing and he signed the same photo for each person. It was the first time I’ve gone to a really free signing – no signing fee and a free photo. Nice!
After we got our Rick Nash autographs, we stopped inside the Blueline store so I could buy a draft t-shirt.
We then went back outside and waited for the Yellowcard concert to begin. The concert lasted an hour and included their popular songs as well as new tracks off their CD coming out in mid-July. They even owned an Avs fan, which made my day.
Once the concert was over, we rushed inside to find a nearly full house. We were somehow able to sneak down into the NHL prospects, family, and friends section so we were closer to the action than most fans. I was able to meet up with Michael @ Army of Ohio at that point. As is custom, we all booed Gary Bettman when he opened up the draft. Patrick Kane of the London Knights (OHL) was drafted first by the Chicago Blackhawks.
I had noticed that two people with badges sat in front of us. Gary Greenstin, Pavel Datsyuk’s agent, sat right in front of my friend. When she asked him for advice for an aspiring sports agent, he didn’t say anything useful whatsoever.
However, Michael later said something about Sergei Fedorov and being traded back to the Wings (as a joke). Greenstin immediately turned around and asked “What about Sergei Fedorov?” Michael explained what he said and that it was a joke. I added that my friend and I were Red Wings fans and liked Fedorov. Greenstin proudly shows us his Wings’ Stanley Cup ring. He then tells me to lean forward, which I do, and he whispers into my ear that the guy sitting next to him (two seats down) is Fedorov’s father, Viktor. The guy in the photograph above is supposedly Viktor Fedorov.
Scotty Bowman then spots Greenstin, who gets up and goes down to talk to him (as seen in the poor photo above). The two talk for 5-10 minutes. Greenstin then returns to his seat and proceeds to get in what sounds like an intense discussion in Russian. I’ve never wanted to be able to speak Russian more in my life than that moment.
Throughout the evening, we watched as various GMs and scouts talked with other team’s management. My attention was on the Wings’ management, whose table was fortunately directly in front of me. The photo to the left is of GM Ken Holland talking with New Jersey’s GM Lou Lamoriello.
We arrived at Nationwide Arena at 9am when the doors opened to the public. We quickly made it to our seats (this time in the second row of the fan section where all the GMs, scouts, etc. exited/entered to get beverages and whatnot. The photograph above is of New Jersey’s GM Lou Lamoriello talking with a Carolina Hurricanes’ scout.
I met a nice family from Quebec, who were sitting in the first row, while waiting for the draft to begin. Jonathan, the boy seen in the photograph with Brett Hull above, practiced his English with me as we talked about hockey. The family was disappointed that the Montreal Canadiens failed to draft Angelo Esposito (a Quebec boy) with their first pick. Despite being a Canadiens’ fans, Jonathan’s favorite player is Pavel Datsyuk.
With the Predators second round pick (#54 overall), they selected Plymouth Whalers’ goaltender Jeremy Smith. I stood up and cheered for Jeremy. Apparently, Tapeleg at Jerseys and Hockey Love saw me stand up and cheer for Jeremy and came over asking if I was in fact Christy. He said that cheering for Jeremy gave me away. We then watched the rest of the second and third rounds together before I left with my friend.
Before I had exited the arena, Steve Yzerman actually left the “protected” area to go up and have a chat with someone sitting in the NHL prospect family section (is that Gerard Gallant?). I quickly walked over to take a photo of them talking as seen above. Yzerman then said “Later guys” and I then left him alone. It was pretty funny to see all these Wings’ fans get up and rush over to where Yzerman was sitting (I didn’t even realize there were that many Wings’ fans in attendance!). According to Tapeleg, he signed autographs on his way back down, which actually surprised me.
My friend and I had a great time in Columbus for the draft and really enjoyed ourselves. The photo above is of the two of us before the Yellowcard concert on Friday (I’m the one on the left). As much as I dislike Columbus (I do go to U of M), the arena district was really nice and the Columbus fans were really knowledgeable. I left feeling that Columbus has a great hockey fan base and I hope to come back sometime next season for a Wings’ road game.
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