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Archive for the ‘Entry Draft’ Category

Last night we had our traditional Draft Party at stately IPB Manor, with the togas and the dancing formations and the cymballs.

Last time we busted out this garb we got badly burned, but with a fourth-overall pick, there was no way this could go badly, right? Right! Look at what all our suffering from last season earned us!

June 24 2011

Insert frenzied cymball crashing here.

Deploy cymballs! Let the bacchanalia commence! We have a new best player ever, and, if the thirty seconds of Pierre McGuire we were willing to listen to last night is any indication, he is going to give us many, many orgasms. (Our actual response to Pierre’s immediate, hysterical response to the Devils’ pick — Schnookie: “Pierre just came all over him! He must be awesome!” Pookie: “This is Pierre we’re talking about. I wouldn’t read much into it.”)

It’s probably not an overreaction to say that Adam Larsson is the Best Devil EVER.

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Victory Euro Mats is rolling around in his lottery riches tonight!

April 12 2011

This is going to be the best fourth-overall pick ever.

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It’s the most wonderful a kinda fun the somewhat tolerable a day of the hockey season: Draft Day! After making the trek up to Ottawa to witness it in person last year, we’re making the trek to the couch to witness it on television this year. While this means we can’t whoop and holler for our boy Lou in the back of a half-filled arena, it does mean we can diarize it. We’ll be updating the diary as the night goes along.

6:59 PM We finally settle the internal struggle of Draft Coverage vs. Jeopardy! by switching over to VS. Here goes!

7:00 PM Pookie is crushed to discover Hedman looks nothing like Viktor Krum! For this reason alone she hopes the Devils don’t draft him with the somethingteenth pick in the first round.

7:04 PM Wow, the building looks packed. Packed with people who were deemed worthy of winning the snooty ticket lottery. Well fiddle-dee-dee says we.

7:17 PM We are so awesome. Our cable box isn’t plugged in, and a giant storm has just blown in. As Garth Snow steps to the podium for the Big Moment, our satellite picture conks out, and we scramble to get the cable hooked back up again. We suspect something similar would have happened in the arena if we’d been in attendance. Which might be why Montreal made sure we didn’t get tickets.

7:18 PM The cable gets hooked up just in time to see John Tavares hugging his family. Oooh, the tension and intrigue!

7:25 PM So the first big trade is Pronger for Lupul, Sbisa, and two first round picks. We’re not sure what memo we should be sending out: “Hey, Anaheim, you do realize that’s Joffery Lupul, right?” or “Hey, Philly, you do realize that’s Chris Pronger, right?”

7:35 PM Brian Burke is mic’d up tonight (of course), and sounds drunk. We’d think Leafs fans would be worried about his inebriation, but considering the way things have been going over the last few years for them, Leafs fans are probably past caring.

7:40 PM The Halliburton, ON tourism board is thrilled that the town’s black fly problem was highlighted on television this evening.

7:44 PM It only takes 44 minutes for Pookie to think to look up when the Devils pick in the first round. 23rd. Huh! Who knew?

7:47 PM This television coverage is throwing into sharp relief our disappointment that no one hired Pierre as GM. If it goes on much longer, we might even be happy to see the Devils hire him into the front office just to get him off our television set.

7:51 PM Speaking of the Draft (heh), today’s Not On The Road With IPB activity involved Victory Euro Mats taking a trip to the Not Montreal Botanical Gardens (aka our front yard garden).

Botanical Mats1

Here he checks out a rare specimen plant called “marigold”. Those Quebecois are so fancy with their flowers!

8:03 PM Pierre announced before the Coytoes picked that he would be “shocked — shocked!!!” if they didn’t select Ekman-Larsson. Draft viewers all over North America let out a sigh of relief, as the Coyotes do just that, saving us all from hours of Pierre’s shocked reaction.

8:11 PM Schnookie: If this isn’t the least compelling television… No wait. The Major League Baseball Draft is less compelling.” Pookie: “Major League Baseball games are less compelling.” Of course, Pierre doesn’t call MLB games… Maybe the joke’s on us?

8:20 PM A caption on the screen tells us newly-minted Star Scott Glennie is comparable to Jeff Carter. Pookie does a spit-take. “He doesn’t look anything like Jeff Carter!”

8:29 PM Normally we’d say we’ll be happy if the Devils draft a warm body, but after seeing Ottawa’s pick, we’ve decided to ratchet up our demands to “a warm body who didn’t blow out his ACL and his MCL six months ago”.

8:35 PM Boomer is deeply engrossed in a mystery thriller novel in front of the TV. Schnookie needles her that she’s not being a very good hockey fan, but as Pierre’s voice prattles on in the background, she responds very dryly, “Oh, I’m listening.”

8:39 PM For more information on V.E. Mats, go to http://www.interchangeableparts.wordpress.com.

Botanical Mats5

8:43 PM It only took us 43 tweets to call a friend a classless beeyotch. We’re clearly off our games. We’ve got a lot of training to do to get back in shape before Training Camp.

8:48 PM As Mahmoud the Cat helps himself to Boomer’s dinner while she’s engrossed in her book, Schnookie accuses her of not paying any attention. Boomer says, “I am too paying attention!” Schnookie, “Oh yeah, name all the picks so far!” Boomer: [confidently] “Tavares, Hedwig, Duchene. And Assif Mandvi.”

8:50 PM TSN pans back to show the whole board and Boomer says, “Alright, I did miss one. I didn’t see when Elkhorn Legman was drafted.” We’re not sure anyone saw Elkhorn Legman get drafted. Yet.

8:55 PM When the Islanders trade up for the 12th pick and Pierre starts ejaculating about A) them not drafting Zach, and B) how “on the rebound” the Islanders are. Garth Snow promptly goes off the board to pick some guy who was projected at 23rd (Hey! That’s OUR pick! BOOOO!), and Pierre wilts while reporting that this kid is not very strong. Buck up, Islanders fans. Maybe whoever Snow didn’t pick will turn out to be an all-star for the Devils!

Meanwhile, here’s Mats reclining at the not-Botanical Gardens under a canopy of catnip.

Botanical Mats6

9:22 PM We are horrified! HORRIFIED! When Nick Leddy is drafted by Minnesota, TSN shows a graphic listing notable past winners of the prestigious Mr. Hockey award. A notable name is notably left off said list. The announcer then begins to describe how Leddy is a fast-skating, puck-moving d-man who opted out of the USDHL so that he could stay at his Minnesota high school to win a state championship. Hmmmm… Does that sound like anyone to you? Sound like a notable past winner of Mr. Hockey? Hmmm? Hmmmmm?!?!? We repeat: we’re horrified. It’s almost as if TSN isn’t manned by members of Paulie Martin Nation. Well, we never!

9:52 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Pookie called it! When we went into commercial with the Flames on the clock, she said they were trading to the Devils. When we come back from commercial, sure enough, they have. Gary does not mention the name “Brent Sutter” when he tells us the details of the deal.

9:55 PM When we get our first look at future Devil superstar Jacob Josefson, Pookie says happily, “He looks so fresh-faced!” Pause. “Of course, the next time we see him, he’ll look like Charlize Theron from Monster.”

9:59 PM We get a shot of the Kings’ runner kid just sitting around, eating an apple. Schnookie: “I could be a runner! That kid’s just eating. I’ve been doing that all day!” Pookie, slightly tipsy: “Yeah, but he’s eating something happy.” Pause. “Healthy.” Schnookie, eyeing the plate of cupcakes next to her: “I’ve been eating things that are happy all day.”

10:21 PM SHOUT OUT! SHOUT OUT! No matter how out of game shape we are, we’re always up for an “interchangeable parts” shout out! We have no idea what they were talking about but… SHOUT OUT! SHOUT OUT!

10:27 PM Day-um! Peter Chiarelli taunts the Montreal fans before making his pick! That’s just the way our Tranny Gentlemen Callers roll. We’re pretty sure Looch wrote his speech for him.

10:34 PM When the Ducks get around to making the 26th pick, one of the TSN panel guys reads some notes telling us all the teams that have traded this particular pick. After he reels off all the cities, Pierre showily leans back and chortles, “Ha ha ha! You’d need a map!” Schnookie: “Or a piece of paper with the cities listed on it.”

10:49 PM Pierre has been insisting all night on making this broadcast into “The 2009 NHL Entry Draft: It’s All About Zach Parise”. The only way he can top this next year would be to spend the entire broadcast in a split-screen insert showing a live shot of him standing outside Zach’s bedroom window, holding a boombox over his head that’s blasting either “In Your Eyes” or the HNIC theme song.

11:00 PM At long last it’s over. We don’t have to listen to Pierre again until next season. WOOOOOOO!!!!! Now it’s Columbo time. He would never get his draft predictions wrong. Never.

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As much as we hated to admit it, today there was no more Draft, and it was time to go home. It was with no small sadness this morning (alarmingly soon after going to bed, we might add) that we bade our hotel filled with Draft boys goodbye and hit the road.

Even though librarian Pookie had carefully printed out Google Maps directions for every driving step of our trip, on a long leg like today it’s nice to gain some perspective about where you are in the grand scheme of things. For much of the day, we seemed to be somewhere in Western New York.

This time around there weren’t any fresh-baked muffins or picnic lunches to be had, so after a few hours of driving, we were starving for our standard “On The Road” nourishment – McDonalds fries. As soon as we made up our minds that we were ready to stop, we came upon a sign promising McDonalds at the next exit. We eagerly pounced, but after driving and driving and driving and driving, the whole thing started to look suspiciously like a hoax. There is no McDonalds here:

Our road trip tried to be a cruel mistress, but seriously, there’s no stopping the power of McDonalds. After getting back onto the highway, it was just a few more exits before we found what we were looking for. Sweet, sweet elixir of life.

It should be noted, though, that the McDonalds we stopped at seemed to be holding the seagull equivalent of the NHL Entry Draft, and like the 18-year-old hockey players at our hotel, the gulls were oozing such a sense of entitlement that they refused to get out of the way of our car.

Things went along pretty smoothly for a while after the French fry debacle, until we met up with our first (and only) bit of nasty traffic for the day somewhere in Pennsylvania.

As we sat motionless for a long while, Schnookie looked out the passenger window and spotted a familiar apartment housing complex. It turns out we were stuck in construction-induced stand-still traffic in this exact same spot last time we made this drive, eight months ago. We couldn’t help but notice that the road didn’t look any better today than it did then.

That sign should endeavor to make it clear that when they say “long term delays” they mean “since October”. It was here that Twinkdo faceplanted.

We couldn’t blame him.

For all that we didn’t want the weekend to end, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t happy to see the Ontario, New York, and Pennsylvania landscapes eventually give way to the lush expanses of the Garden State. For starters, it’s summer now – there’s corn to be driving past!

Knee-high by the Fourth of July? Check and check.

When the highways give way to surface streets, those big open skies filled with clouds that demonstrate how we’re driving into our humid, thunderstormy homeland…

… Give way to the canopied, wooded streets of central Jersey.

Ahhh, home. And in just one simple eight-hour drive, we made our way from Canada’s capital to the Small Town, USA where we live.

There were no Draft boys here to greet us. Bummer.

Looking back on our trip, we have a few loose ends to add to our travelogue here:

1. We are thrilled that we now know the names of four – count ‘em, four – Devils prospects, which is four more than we’ve ever known. Tedenby, Burlon, Cormier, and Henrique were all drafted in our presence. Consequently, we expect them all to have huge impacts on the organization, starting next season. That weird-looking kid Matt Delahey was picked after we left on Saturday, so we expect him to fade into oblivion like every other Devils prospect we’ve ignored over the last decade and a half. Sorry, Delahey. Them’s the breaks. (And we’re not even bothering to look up who they drafted after Delahey.)

2. At the Draft, each team table has a little kid acting as a runner. The kids wear team logo-ed caps and sweaters, and some of them have names on their sweaters that announce that nepotism is the driving factor in hiring an Entry Draft runner (example: the Islanders had two runners, named “Wang” and “Guerin”). When we arrived for the first round on Friday, the Devils runner was just delivering a box to the New Jersey table. We wondered what he was trucking around until Schnookie hit on the obvious explanation: “It’s the box of pucks the Devils just traded Brian Gionta for!” (Actually, the kids deliver stuff like bottles of water and print-outs from the printers at the side of the floor. They also truck away the table’s trash. The consensus among the Potted Plant Cotillioneers was that it would be a cool job for about ten minutes, and then even being privy to all the Draft secrets wouldn’t be worth having to wait on your team’s front office guys for seven rounds.) We were also guilty, more than once, of mistaking a team’s draft pick for their runner.

3. Gary Bettman is a surprisingly dynamic first-round emcee. We have no idea how it translates on TV, but in person we found him almost charming (in as much as anything in the first round of the Draft can be charming). He took his abuse from the crowd with good-natured aplomb, seemed to have a lot of fun announcing the trades, and when one of the later picks in the round expected him to serve as his valet, Bettman didn’t bat an eye. (It was pretty hilarious. The team hadn’t sent enough guys up to the stage to take the kid’s jacket for him when he went to put on his sweater, and the kid just calmly handed his jacket off to Gary. Talk about assy entitlement. We hope he slipped him a fiver.)

4. A note to any Gentle Reader planning on visiting Scotiabank Place: don’t count on there being any kind of clear marking on the highway telling you how to get to the arena, which is just plunked down smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. We assumed, having been to 18 other NHL arenas, that once we got close to the place, there would be some signage explaining how to get from the highway to the parking lots. We were wrong. There is not a single sign anywhere announcing that you are approaching the facility, or how to navigate the web of surface streets between 417 and the arena. What, is Ottawa ashamed of it or something? Is it the city’s dirty little secret? Do they not want outsiders getting in? Whatever, Ottawa. Whatever.

5. Next time we plan an IPB Irregulars outing, if you haven’t already attended one and would like to participate, be forewarned that we are not afraid to act like stupid tourists. Patty took this picture demonstrating how unabashedly touristy we were, as we gave a beavertail the full paparazzi treatment:

Photo credit: Patty (In Dallas)

Notice Heather on the right there, who seems to be thinking, “Have these yokels never seen fried dough before?” To which we say, “IPB doesn’t get these awesome photographic details of what it’s like to travel with the dorkiest hockey fans on the planet by being ashamed of taking pictures of beavertails on a crowded Ottawa street, thank you very much.”

6. When the idea first came up in these pages to have an IPB Irregulars get-together at the Draft, it seemed like a ton of fun in theory, but when the time came to actually put our money where our mouths were, we had our doubts. We were afraid the Draft would be horribly dull, and worried that driving 16 hours round-trip wouldn’t be worth it just to hang out in person with people we can just as easily hang out with online. We mustered some enthusiasm, to be sure, for the adventure of it all, but were highly skeptical about how great the weekend would be in practice. Well, as it turns out, if we could have a nickel for every time we spontaneously proclaimed, “I am having so much fun” this weekend, we’d be very wealthy now. The Draft was a shockingly interesting thing to see in person, but more importantly, our company was unparalleled in its awesomeness. We can’t thank Heather, Patty, Meg, alix, and Hockeygirl enough for making the trip and sharing in all the fun with us – honestly, the Potted Plant Cotillion is going down in IPB History as one of our greatest trips of all time. We’re exhausted tonight, and hoarse from so much laughter and shouting, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Photo credit: Patty (In Dallas)

And we can’t wait for the next time we get to chillax with more of y’all!

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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.

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Day Two of our epic journey to the center of the Draft started in the wee hours, pretty much as a continuation of the evening of Day One. We returned from our dinner, discovered we’d missed alix’s arrival by about ten minutes, wrote our blog post, and then got to greet Heather, Patty, and Meg when they checked into the room adjoining ours. It’s a good thing all the other people on our floor were draftees, and therefore 18-year-old boys with no sense of etiquette, because we were raucously loud until close to two in the morning. Since we’ve met her before, Heather is totally ho-hum, old-hat for us, but this was the first time we’ve met Meg and Patty face-to-face. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads their blogs or hangs out regularly around here that they are both awesomely kick-ass and wonderful. We finally broke up the party when we realized morning was fast approaching, and with it would be all manner of new, Drafty adventures.

We got a nice, restful lie-in on Day Two, then met up in the hotel lobby with alix and Hockeygirl. After about ten seconds of conversation, we realized that they, like Patty and Meg, were well worth driving eight hours to hang out with. Of all the fantastic things about the interwebs, making new friends is the very best.

Our first day of hot Draft action wasn’t going to start until the evening, so we had a leisurely afternoon to rattle around Byward Market, eating tasty food and acting like tourists (except for Ottawa-local Hockeygirl, who did a great job of pretending not to be embarrassed by us yokels). First we took an outdoor lunch in the midst of intermittent rain showers…

…And then, when the sun came out for good, we tackled the local delicacies.

Of all the regionally-specific fried-dough specialties we’ve had, beavertails are definitely the ones that most resemble beaver tails.

Other than that, they’re pretty much just fried dough with cinnamon and sugar on them. Whatevs. Maybe the chocolate-smeared ones with Reese’s Pieces on them are more impressive. We’re not sure we’re going to find out. Although we did appreciate the beavertail stand’s dedication to fine beaver-related art:

Before we knew it, the time for fun was over, and we had to buckle down and get about the business of attending the Draft (without HG, who was otherwise engaged during the Draft itself – she’ll just have to make a better effort next year). We piled into two cars and began what turned out to be a merciless, grueling journey from downtown Ottawa to rural Kanata. The traffic was abominable…

…And the scenery while sitting in said traffic didn’t make things any more bearable.

After what felt like six or seven lifetimes, Kanata’s welcoming arms finally took us in…

…And Scotiabank Place itself loomed on the horizon.

It is only because we have attended a Stanley Cup parade in the parking lot of the Meadowlands that we feel we have the right to point out that the Sens’ arena is no less stupidly located than CAA was. When we parked, in a lot directly across the street from the arena, this was what our car was facing.

So anyway, the FanFest was laid out in all its giant, inflatable glory directly in front of the arena, with its creepy, headless NHL Network torso…

… To its row of Sparty bouncy entertainments…

… To the perennial favorite giant, blow-up hockey guy who looks disconcertingly like John Madden.

If you’re over the age of seven, FanFest is not really the place for you, so we made our way quickly into the arena, where fans of teams across the league were mingling with be-suited front-office types from across the league and be-suited prospective draftees from all over the hockey-playing world. The 300-level seating wasn’t open to us plebes yet, so we gawked at the trophies on display, then hunted down some more hockey cards to provide some improved variety in the Project Bicycle Spoke dispenser. There was a promotion going on that if you buy five packs of cards and then open them in front of one of the card show employees, you would get a free pack of some special Draft cards. Since free is our favorite attribute, we overcame our initial disinclination to look at the cards before dropping them into the PBS box, and divvied up the packs.

Our free Draft cards contained a Daniel Alfredsson card, and, well, you all know what a classless beeyotch Heather is. She couldn’t control herself. There was mustache drawing, and tearing, and stomping.

It was an ugly scene. We guess that’s just proof that there’s no such thing as a free pack of hockey cards.

Perhaps spurred on by the obvious rancor growing in the Sabres fans in the crowd, the 300-level seats were quickly opened, and we ascended to our perch in the rafters. It’s fair to say that the Draft floor set-up where we would normally be expecting to see hockey is one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen.

We were given programs to let us know where each team’s table was, and we settled in to pick out own teams, tried to figure out what it looked like they were thinking, and cursed ourselves for not bothering to study up ahead of time on the other teams’ GMs. Frankly, of all the tables, we think the one headed up by Lou Lamoriello is the one that looks most intimidating.

We were sitting far along the side of the arena bowl, right next to the stage:

And we were able to just peek behind the backdrop to see the placards for the later rounds.

There was a fair-sized crowd, and everyone from the fans to the suits on the floor was milling around noisily. Suddenly someone took the stage and said into a microphone, “May I have your attention please?” The fans all stilled and took their seats, but then we realized the announcer was not speaking to us – he was talking to the men on the Draft floor. Everyone was told to take their seats, and then, like in summer camp, role was taken. Seriously! Each of the teams’ GMs had to pipe up to report that they were, in fact, present and ready to get a-draftin’. We have no idea what the crowd sounded like on the floor, but up where we were sitting there was a ton of energy. Fans cheered for their teams when they checked in, and the Sens fans gave a loud report in support of their guys, then a lusty chorus of booing for the Leafs. (The booing was maintained all night, every time the Leafs were mentioned, and whenever Cliff Fletcher was shown on the jumbotron.) When roll call wrapped up, Eugene Melnyk blathered on at length to kick the proceedings off (the sound design was terrible, and we could only make out one of about every five words spoken over the loudspeakers or jumbotron), and then the 2008 Entry Draft was under way.

There was little thrill when Stamkos was picked first overall, but we documented it for all posterity in case he ends up being awesome. We’re pretty sure this is the only picture of him being drafted on the interwebs:

Now, it should be noted that we went into this trip fully expecting the Draft to be excruciatingly boring. We’ve watched it on TV from time to time, and really, it’s got to be the most dreadfully dull thing ever put across the airwaves. We also don’t really care about the Draft – we don’t follow the Devils’ picks in the minors, Juniors or college, and we don’t pay attention to prospects in any of those places either. We limit our attention to the big club, and when kids come up and do well, that’s good for them. We are the last people on earth who should be attending a Draft in person, because we don’t know the first thing about any of the players involved. So color us amazed that the Draft in person is actually, well… fun. Every time Gary Bettman announced from the podium that there was a trade to report, the entire crowd would come to attention, half of them shushing everyone, the other half “ooooh!”ing. The picks themselves are made at a snail’s pace, but there was still this strange, buzzing excitement in the crowd. Maybe it was just that everyone thought it was as ridiculous as we did. Who knows? Whatever the case, we had a blast. Sure, it felt like the whole first round lasted a month, but it was a fun kind of boring.

As for the Devils, we cheered on the tops of our lungs when the 21st pick was announced, and then tried to maintain our composure when Lou traded down to 23rd. This is what a trade looks like in person at the Draft:

First the paperwork is filed…

… And then Gary announces it for the world to hear.

We did the same when Lou traded down again to the 24th pick, but our patience was finally rewarded when the Brain Trust took the stage.

Because we attended this Draft in person, as bloggers, it’s safe to say that we are experts. And so it’s our expert opinion that Matthias Tedenby is by far the best player selected in this Draft. From the back of the upper deck, he just seems better than all the other guys, so we’re delighted that Lou picked him. (Would we have said the same thing about any other guy if the Devils had picked him instead? Ummm… Look at that hobo!) Heather had done a little advance scouting on him (read: “had read his name come up in a pre-Draft article about the players the Sabres might be considering”) and gave us this quote from Kevin Devine, the Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting:

“Surprisingly the interviews are a lot like the way they play on the ice. There is a kid in Sweden, named Mattias Tedenby. He is just a little guy that can fly around the room. When he came into the interview that’s exactly what he did. He grabbed a handful of candy, ate all our candy and left. That’s the same type of player he is on the ice.”

Dude. Does it get better than that? He’s like a cracked-out hummingbird, hopped up on sugary treats!

He was moving too fast for our camera’s weak zoom capabilities to capture him on film!

We love Tedenby, and spent much of the rest of the first round trying to come up with nicknames for him. So far we’ve got him at “Herschel-Bird Puddin’head” (don’t ask), but we’ve got some time yet before the season starts and he becomes the Calder Trophy frontrunner to come up with something better.

Now, there were reports last week that people were selling the free tickets to the Draft for $125 a piece, and even more ridiculous reports in support of spending that kind of money on them that all the free tickets to the first round had been snatched up by noon on the first day they were available. We were wildly lazy about mailing away for our tickets, and we were given tons of them. And there were plenty of good seats still available when the festivities started. More than that, there were zillions of good seats available after the Senators finished with their pick, and the top prospects had all been doled out.

We stayed until the bitter end, amongst a crowd of die-hards so modest in number that it made us feel like we were at a reasonably well-attended mid-season Devils game back in the ’03-’04 season. Yeah, we’re wheaty Draft fans, bitches.

Traffic was considerably better on the way back to the hotel, and the group of us made a candy-and-chips run at the front desk for a midnight snack in lieu of dinner. We had a short night of sleep ahead of us, as the second round would be getting underway early the next morning. Draft blogging is hard work, yo.

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After what seems like years in the making, today was finally the day to hit the road for the Potted Plant Cotillion! It’s like living a dream! We never thought the day would actually come!

We started our day off at the crack of dawn – 9:30. In the morning. We were facing a long drive, and hadn’t done a whit of preparation for it. First up on the docket? Making muffins, as everyone does on the morning they’re supposed to drive to Canada.

We still had all kinds of packing to do, too, including, most importantly, our potted plants. We went to great lengths to pick potted plants no one else at the cotillion would be wearing; in the end Pookie went with a Meyer lemon tree…

…And Schnookie chose a “hot & spicy” oregano.

With our plants picked out, there really wasn’t anything else to pack. We sat around for a while, waiting for the muffins to come out of the oven…

…And put together a picnic lunch.

Now, we adore road tripping because spending hours in the car means spending hours listening to music. The iPod-to-Ookie ratio was high on this ride, and we’d both made playlists especially for today’s drive.

Between the two of them, we had three hours of music just to kick things off before launching into our standard “Five-star” shuffle mode. The singing along was loud, atonal, and marked by some serious gusto. It was a beautiful day for driving, and even Pookie’s car’s totem, Twinkdo, was rarin’ to channel its Inner Garfunkel and hit the road.

With all our preparations, we didn’t actually roll out of the driveway until 11:30. Thanks to glorious weather, ridiculously light traffic, and the endless thrill of not being at work on a weekday, the driving seemed effortless. The sky was robin’s-egg blue, the clouds fluffy and white, and the wildflowers along the highway bright and abundant. Really, you can’t ask for much more than that.

We enjoyed a muffin breakfast on the road in Jersey, oohed and aahed over the rolling hills in Pennsylvania…

…And stopped for our picnic somewhere between Scranton and Syracuse.

Along the way, we even discovered where the big rival from the MacGyver ice hockey episode is located. We wonder if being from New York would disqualify them from the Minnesota State Hockey Championship?

It was only after passing Syracuse that we got to traverse some highway we’ve never seen before. We paused to sell a pair of kidneys to pay for gas, and then it was all uncharted waters for us. For starters, who knew Thousand Islands was in New York/Ontario? We always figured it was somewhere off the coast of California, next to Catalina. Second, who knew the St. Lawrence River was so pretty? (When we stopped at the toll booth right before the St. Lawrence, we made a point of picking lane 6, in the hope that it would encourage the Lightning to accept Andy Greene straight-up for Vinny Lecavalier.)

Third, who knew that they were trying to lure Brett Hull to Western New York?

Disaster struck right at the border crossing, though; after weeks of anticipating taking a picture out the window of a “Welcome to Canada” sign, Schnookie totally dropped the ball because “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came on the shuffle right then, and she was distracted by singing along. Several disconsolate minutes later, she announced she was going to take a picture of the road instead, to show off how different it looks from an American road. As soon as those words were spoken, a Coors truck passed us. A Coors truck.

So, um… Canada doesn’t look very different from the US. There are even the same birds here. If we saw one red-winged blackbird, we saw ten billion – seriously, birds, we wouldn’t have minded seeing some more variety. Remember that for our drive home, okay?

Hey look, though!

Signs for Ottawa! WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

We pulled up at our hotel at 7:30 on the button, extravagantly pleased with a day well driven. Of course, we were quickly made to feel like the Little People when we tried to drive into the hotel parking lot, but found our way blocked by a group of large, fit-looking, well-dressed teenage boys, their pretty, well-dressed girlfriends, and their well-dressed parents. They showed not the tiniest inclination to move out of our way when we were in the car, then were even less inclined to notice us walking through where they were blocking the front door of the hotel when we were on foot. You guessed it, Gentle Reader – draftees! In our hotel! It’s like being in the same hotel with the Devils, but before they’re actually Devils!

We managed to resist the urge to spend the entire evening gawking at the 18-year-olds who might someday be people we’ve heard of, and wandered off into nearby Byward Market, armed with suggestions from Sherry, and found a nice, relaxing dinner. Of course, it wouldn’t be a hockey trip for us if there wasn’t something odd happening in our sauces. Upon discovering carrots in her chicken burrito, Pookie sighed helplessly, “What is wrong with these people?” Well, that’s what we get for driving to Canada for Mexican food.

Stay tuned, Gentle Reader, because we’ll be back tomorrow with all kinds of news from our meeting up with the rest of the Cotillioneers, and maybe even with Draft news.

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