2012 NHL Draft: A Fan’s Perspective
Photo courtesy of imaginepittsburghnow.com
By John Gilbert (@jgilbertmedia)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a fantastic city for sports. Whether you are catching a Steelers game at Heinz Field, a Pirates game at PNC Park or a Penguins game at CONSOL Energy Center, the atmosphere is somewhat magical. I had the pleasure of attending a game at Mellon Arena prior to the final Penguins game there on May 12, 2010. A very disappointing loss in the playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens in game 7 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was certainly a bitter farewell to the historic arena.
Move forward to June 22, 2012. This is the day where fans of teams all over the league will file into the CONSOL Energy Center just to catch a live look at the newest faces to join their respective organizations.
This look into the 2012 NHL Draft is not quite a ‘behind the scenes’ look, but more of an ‘over the scene’ look. Let me put this in perspective before I move into the draft details.
I have my notebook and pen in one hand, my program in the other hand, and my friend’s binoculars around my neck. I’m also wearing a Sidney Crosby jersey to hide my true love of the Leafs. Not that I have abandoned my team. I have simply avoided any potential confrontations between myself and a fan wearing a rival jersey. That is on his or her fifth wobbly pop. Plus, if there is a confrontation, something tells me I have people backing me up for the threads I’m donning. #tipsforavoidingamashedupfaceatadraft
Now that we have my tip of the day out of the way, I can move forward with my experiences during the first round of the draft. I have decided to make this a little different. I logged the time that each event occurred and I will list the more interesting events in order. I thought it was creative *crickets*.
Moving right along, some of the info may turn out to be nothing, but with binoculars I saw a whole lot more than most did.
1700hrs: The mad rush is herded through the turnstiles and led out to pasture. I mean, to the seats.
One woman dropped her ticket while approaching the end of the escalator and proceeded to turn her back to the exit. The back of her feet then hit the metal platform as she tumbled backwards and landed on her buttocks. Gladly, she was fine and was helped up. She did almost cause a re-enactment of a playoff overtime goal celebration though.
1705: We grabbed some great seats in the front row of the upper bowl and began observing the activity on the draft floor with our trusty binoculars. To borrow lyrics from Luscious Jackson, “with my naked eye I saw.”
1715: General Managers begin appearing on the draft floor
1720: Alyonka Larionov is working for TSN and she looks INCREDIBLE in a red dress.
Here you go.
1725: Holmgren (Flyers) and Gillis (Canucks) in a lengthy conversation for over five minutes
1740: Burke (Leafs) in discussion with Murray (Ducks)
1744: Holmgren (Flyers) and Lamoriello (Devils) talking privately for almost 10 minutes
1754: Sather (Rangers) and Maloney (Coyotes) talking
1810: Tambellini (Oilers) and Maloney (Coyotes) talking
1820: Bergevin (Canadiens) and Sather (Rangers) talking
1822: Burke (Leafs) and Regier (Sabres) talking
1825: Burke (Leafs) stops by to speak with Bergevin (Canadiens) at their table
1825: Snow (Islanders) walks over to a waiting Maloney (Coyotes) at the front of the draft stage for a discussion
1827: Nonis (Leafs) is now over speaking to Murray (Ducks). Noticing heavy talks between Leafs and Ducks today
1829: Burke (Leafs) at the back of the draft area speaking to Lombardi (Kings)
1830: Shero (Penguins) and Sather (Rangers) are in conversation
1838: Poile (Predators) and Yzerman (Lightning) talking. Perhaps about the deal they pulled off
1840: Burke (Leafs) and Murray (Ducks) are again over at the boards on the draft floor having a close discussion
Right after the discussion concludes, Murray calls one of his men over from his own draft table and has a conversation with him. Something could be in the works?
1842: Role call begins to ensure all teams can hear the microphone at the podium. Teams reply with the microphones at their respective tables to acknowledge.
1847: Philadelphia announced for role call. Nobody can hear their response over the heavy booing from the Penguins faithful.
1852: Welcome and draft intro
1906: Gary Bettman places two phone books on the floor and then steps on top of them in order to see over the podium. (Okay, that didn’t REALLY happen)
1913: Nail Yakupov is selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the 1st Overall Pick.
1918: I used the binoculars to view the Blue Jackets table prior to their pick. The jersey was handed to a representative at the table. When he refolded the jersey, I caught a glimpse of the top half of the name bar on the back. I was actually one of the first people to know 100% they were taking Ryan Murray. However, with my Canadian cell phone, I had no way of telling anyone prior to the pick. Damn you expensive roaming!
1928: Canadiens select Alex Galchenyuk. Alex gets a nice cheer, however, his sister gets a bigger one from the testosterone in the Consol Energy Center.
1935: The moment we had all been waiting for. Gary Bettman’s famous draft words, “I have a trade to announce.” The deal sends Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders for a second round pick.
1945: A few Leafs fans around me are very excited that Filip Forsberg is still there. Leafs then approach the microphone and select Morgan Rielly. Those fans are surprised to say the least.
1949: Another trade is announced. Ribiero goes from Dallas to Washington for Cody Eakin and a second round pick.
2006: Biggest trade of the night. Bettman adds “you all may be particularly interested in this one,” to his usual trade announcement. Jordan Staal to Carolina for the 8th Overall, Brandon Sutter and a prospect.
As soon as Jordan Staal’s name is mentioned, the arena erupted in cheers. Very shocking for such a beloved player in Pittsburgh. However, speaking to some locals about it after the draft, they explained that once you betray the Penguins or do something to show disrespect to the fans, they turn on you.
2042: Capitals taking an unusually long time to make their pick.
Gary Bettman took to the microphone to tell the Capitals to hurry it up. Once McPhee started toward the stage, he passed the Dallas table, said something to Joe Nieuwendyk and shrugged his shoulders. Looks like Dallas really wanted who the Capitals were taking, (Forsberg) but a deal couldn’t be reached?
2057: Noticed that McPhee (Capitals) and Snow (Islanders) were speaking via phone at their respective tables.
2100: Bryan Murray (Senators) and Rutherford (Hurricanes) talking on the phone
2102: Buffalo and Calgary flip some draft picks
Not much else went on as the opening night of the draft seemed to drag. Almost four hours to complete 30 selections. It just seemed like it was too long. A simple solution that hopefully we could see next year is a time limit like the NBA has. Five minutes to make the pick is definitely enough, given all the scouting and meetings had prior to draft day.
Would I go again? Absolutely! It may have been long, but seeing everything happen in front of me was great. When you see it on television, you don’t control what you see. If yo bring a pair of binoculars, you can see some things that even television cameras don’t.
Next year the draft is in Newark, New Jersey. It should be a devil of a time!