Day Three of our grand Ottawa adventure, and Day Two of the Draft, kicked off at the ungodly hour of 8:30, when we all met for the free buffet breakfast in our hotel. We’d been up until the wee hours of the morning the night before, because the Courtyard unwisely gave us an adjoining room with Meg, Patty, and Heather, and put alix just a few doors down the hall. That set-up made it very easy for us to do the hockey bloggers’ equivalent of staying up late giggling, putting on make-up, and talking about boys.
Now, it should be noted that after our midnight snack run last night, Schnookie rode alone in the elevator with a very tall young man in a nice suit (with pocket square!). The strapping lad had a pizza slice in hand at that late hour, as if he had only just gotten a chance to grab dinner, and when he noticed Schnookie was wearing a Devils t-shirt, he asked, “Were you at the Draft?”
“Yeah, I was,” Schnookie answered. She didn’t recognize him, but recognized what he was. “Were you getting drafted?”
As it turns out, this fellow was almost ridiculously personable and chatty, and in the short ride in the elevator and walk along the corridors (he was on our hallway as well), he revealed that he hadn’t gone in the first round, but wasn’t expecting to go until later anyway. He admitted he wasn’t nervous because it was just exciting and fun to find out where he was going to be playing, discussed which teams he wanted to go to, even going so far as to politely include the Devils on that list (“I had a really good interview with them,” he said), and then asked if Schnookie was in the group of Draft attendees from New York that he’d met the night before. Our opinion of future draftees had been sullied somewhat by the oblivious and obnoxious gaggle of them blocking our entrance to the hotel on Thursday night, but this kid was just so hilariously charming, and was clearly making friends with strangers in the hotel left and right. He introduced himself as Geordie Wudrick before he and Schnookie bade each other goodbye and good luck. We now had a second-favorite second-day draftee, after James Wright, alix’s cousin; with a personal stake in the later rounds, things were much more intense.
Also making the day more intense? We didn’t have to sit in the upper deck. Much to our delight, we were informed after climbing up to the 300 level that we could sit wherever we wanted. We trooped back downstairs and went to poke our heads out into the arena bowl to see where there were open seats. On our way down the little hallway off the concourse, we ran into Kevin Lowe. Or rather, Schnookie noticed Kevin Lowe walking out the other way, and everyone else was oblivious. When we glanced around the seats, we saw, a few sections over, Larry Robinson chatting with Butthead Guerin. Well, that was the section we needed to be sitting in, of course. On the way around the concourse over there, Schnookie remained an NHLer magnet and managed to get into a “you go this way, I’ll go that way” head-to-head, blocking-each-other’s-way standoff with Butthead. While she was wearing a 2000 Devils Stanley Cup championship shirt. Butthead was very polite about it, and didn’t seem put off by the fact that Schnookie was pretending not to recognize him. By the time we got to our seats about 30 seconds later, the big-fish story version of the exchange had become that Schnookie beat Butthead up, and don’t believe him if he says otherwise.
The view from our 100-level seats was markedly better than from the nosebleeds last night:
We were directly on top of the trade-registration center, so when the many, many late-round-picks-for-late-round-picks trades went down, they happened practically right in our laps. Look! There’s Darcy Regier, being a diabolical genius!
And there’s J.D. doing a TV interview!
Shortly after we arrived, the Devils got to pick, and they went with the utterly awesome Brandon Burlon.
Yeah, we don’t know anything about him, but now that he’s a Devil, we’re pretty sure he’s amazing. His only problem was that he wasn’t sitting near us, something that was remedied on the Devils’ next pick, Patrice Cormier, who happened to be sitting practically right behind us.
The Devils were clearly prepared for him, what with the Cormier sweater on hand.
Patrice seems to be quite the schmoozer, and he spent about a week chatting up everyone at the Devils’ table, then another week chatting with the media guys across the floor from us. And speaking of schmoozers, our first moment of the day steeped with personal pride came when our long-time BFF Geordie was picked by the Kings. The L.A. table was right in front of us, and we delighted in watching him chat happily with everyone there, then spent a surprisingly long time signing some sort of paperwork. The Draft is all about the wacky behind-the-scenes stuff!
The very best personal-pride moment, though, came when James Wright was drafted by the Lightning.
Making the moment extra-fun as we cheered heartily for him was that the Lightning table was even closer to us than the Kings’, so we got to watch up close as he pulled on his sweater and exchanged hearty handshakes with his new employers.
After our close friends and relatives were taken, the excitement of the late rounds was kind of dispelled. The behind-the-scenes stuff is only enthralling for so long when the teams are taking eternal “time outs” to figure out that they want to trade the 110th pick for the 117th and a 6th-round pick in 2010. That said, there was some pretty fascinating stuff to see today. For starters, there were the laptops the various teams had all their guys using; they were almost close enough to see what they were doing (the Chicago guys had Blackhawk logos on their wallpapers), but we could tell for sure that the Sabres guys were often watching highlights. There was some suspicion from our Sabres contingent that they were doing all their video scouting for the late rounds on the spot.
Meanwhile, the Devils had only one laptop at their table. We wondered where they were hiding their abacus, wax tablets, and styluses.
Also fascinating to us was that Butthead recovered miraculously from his Schnookie-induced injuries and was able to bring his kid over to schmooze with Lou. Frighteningly, Lou actually, like, pinched the kid’s cheek all grandfather-like. Lou. Grandfather-like. *Shudder*
Best of all, though, was the boxed lunches the guys on the floor were given. The dude at the podium (not Bettman today) announced well beforehand that lunches were going to be distributed, and asked that the teams make an effort not to let lunch slow them down too much.
That didn’t work so well. Once the guys had food in front of them, the Draft slowed from a crawl to a brutal, slogging crawl. So, at the end of the fifth round, we left.
After a late lunch at a diner, we crawled back to the hotel and took a long, refreshing nap; we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in time for a splurgy dinner replete with tons of girly drinks.
We were sitting in a booth next to a guy who was wearing his team-issue draftee baseball cap (they also apparently got team-issue duffel bags) and seemed to be calling everyone in the contacts on his cell phone to exult, “I got drafted today!” Not that we can blame him. If we’d been drafted today, we’d be doing the same thing.
After an extravagantly loud dinner, we made our way back to the hotel and spent a few more raucous hours playing Power Play (Meg’s Sabres were the champions, making up for 2006), then finally realized it was going to be time to leave in just a few hours. And so the sun has set on the Potted Plant Cotillion – all that’s left is the driving home.