Monday, June 23, 2008

Post Draft Thoughts. . .

Well it took me three days to get back to writing about Friday’s NHL Entry Draft, so granted, things are not as fresh in my mind as they were those three long days ago, but I’ll try my best. My random thoughts:

These kids, and certainly the majority of the top five -- and thus those that reporters are going to be clamoring to get interviews with in the coming year -- are pretty eloquent. I loved hearing them speak. Some were nervous, sure, and, of course, many of their answers were of the “I am going to work hard this summer to try to make the team this fall,” “I hope to do whatever I can to improve the team,” and “I’m excited to be drafted by the [insert team name here]” variety. But that’s okay. They’re young and fresh and will hopefully grow into being the great players those teams and the league expects them to be.

Which brings me to why I think I am going to grow to love Draft Day. As a background, living in the States, we didn’t always get Draft Day coverage (or at least not at times when I was old enough to be aware). And, as I was out of the state at a wedding for last year’s draft weekend, this year became the first year where I could and actually did watch (Friday, not Saturday’s coverage). I think what I immediately liked was the hope and expectations surrounding it all. These kids train their whole lives for this. Such nerves surround their waiting. Such excitement when their name is finally called. For some, it’s their beginning of greatness. For others, their days in hockey will never get better than this. I guess it’s much like the reason that I love Opening Night. There is so much hope. Your team can win and that hope stays alive for another night. It might be a great year. The year. Your team could lose and you start to question. Here we go again? But for that entire day and up until that first puck drop, the whole season is still unwritten. It’s a great feeling. Much the same way it is on Draft Day.

I didn’t hear about the David Carle story until I was driving into work this morning, (Thank you Home Ice XM 204), but I’m glad I did. It is moments like this that make me happy and proud to be a sports fan. Read this article:

I dare you not to get tears in your eyes. I have read it a few times, and I can’t help but tear up each time. Again, as touched on above, there is so much hope that comes with the experience of Draft Day. There is so much that goes into the dream of being a professional athlete. Many times, the journey is tough; you get to be drafted, but it’s the staying in the league and being successful that is the hard part. For David Carle, a dream was cut short before it ever got to be truly realized. But he still had the journey. And the Tampa Bay organization recognized that. Recognized that a kid worked so hard for the chance to have his name called on Draft Day. And they let him have his moment. Truly such a classy thing to do. Nothing less than utter class.

As for David Carle, his story reminds us of where the line between hockey player and human being gets written. He is, I would imagine, devastated he won’t get to play hockey. But I know, without a doubt, he’s happy he gets to live. The hardest news he had to hear was the best news in disguise. He’s aware now. He’s not in the dark. He can live a full life. He can even keep his scholarship to the University of Denver. And whether or not he’ll be involved in hockey (coaching, scouting, managing, or the like) in his future, he’ll be attached to the game through his brother, Matt, and through one really great memory of being drafted on Draft Day. There is more to life than hockey, as we all hear and are all reminded of from time to time. David’s story is just another reminder, but one of the most touching and classiest I’ve seen.

Quick shots:

-Calgary drafting Windsor Spitfire Greg Nemisz, perhaps not in memory of, but with the memory of Mickey Renaud in mind.

-It’s pretty cool that Drew Doughty actually likes the idea of going to the LA Kings, as he was a fan growing up. That might help him smile through the rebuilding process that still awaits those in Southern California. But in seriousness, I always love when players get the chance to play for their “favorite” team. (See Edmonton’s first pick, Jordan Eberle, for another example).

-Think Alex Tanguay is thinking he’ll have a great year for Montreal in 08-09, a bad year in 09-10, and wondering where he’ll be traded to on Draft Day 2010? I thought when he was sent to Calgary that he and Jarome Iginla would light it up. It was a slow start, but Tanguay came around in 06-07, before having a lackluster year in 07-08. Hope he finds success as a Hab. I always liked the guy.

-My father did funny voice-overs for Toronto’s Cliff Fletcher while he was on screen at the draft. (For the record, my father had no idea who he was and just thought he was an old man on the verge of collapse. If only he knew!) To draftee Luke Schenn: “Who are you?” To everyone: “We have a hockey team?” To TSN’s James Duthie: “Where am I?”

-Speaking of, here’s hoping Luke Schenn’s smile and enthusiasm can last beyond Opening Night in Toronto. He seems like a spunky kid who’s happy to have the chance to turn the Maple Leafs around. Oh so much easier said than done, I’m afraid.

-The TSN folks joked about how a guy named Chet Pickard would fit in really well in Nashville with a guy named Vernon Fiddler. What about Jed Ortmeyer? Chet, Fiddler, and a guy named Jed!

-The Phoenix Coyotes won the Jared Staal competition. But was it a competition?

-Nikita Filatov (what a great hockey name that is!) – his Mom is an English teacher and taught him English. Really? Honestly, it must have been nerves, because he did not appear to know English very well. Now will Nikolai Zherdev be on the way out of Columbus before the two Russian Niks can bond?

-Lastly, the Rangers nabbed a guy named Michael Del Zotto with the 20th pick. I really know nothing about him and will, as always, reserve all rights to wait until he actually plays a game with the Rangers to decide how I feel about him. But does he or does he not look like former Rangers draft pick Al Montoya? If you glance quickly? Really quickly? While squinting and tilting your head? Oh never mind.

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