Here are some final thoughts from me on the NHL Draft weekend:
Montreal is not a cheap place to visit, and if you go bring comfortable shoes, the whole town is made up of hills and stairs. But a fun town, full of many different customs and cultures, I look forward to visiting again soon.
NHL Tweetups are doing a great job of bringing hockey fans together from all over North America, but I still don't get why after they all show up at a Tweetup, they sit and Twitter to other people. I still see Twitter as the death of the American conversation, but it is what it is, and its become a necessary tool for this site and thousands of others. I say this with much love to my dear friend @dani3boyz who was instrumental in bringing this new phenomenon of getting hockey fans on Twitter together and getting the NHL involved. She doesn't get nearly the credit she deserves, and she'll never ask for it.
If you aren't already following her on Twitter, you should be, always good stuff from Dani. The NHL would be smart to consider a more official position for her, the league can only benefit from it. Make sure @dani3boyz is on your follow list.
Funny stuff after the Ryan Bourque selection, Ryan on the phone frantically trying to find his Dad Ray so the media could talk to him.
Saw Scotty Bowman a few times around the arena, and at one point he asked me how to get somewhere in the Bell Centre, which to me was akin to Vince Lombardi asking where Main St is in Green Bay.
Ethan Werek was by far the most exuberant of the Rangers draft picks, he was just a fun kid to be around, all the reporters were smiling as he was giving his answers, and Ethan just gives off that type of vibe.
Got to see, hold and caress the Stanley Cup last night. And no, I don't buy all that "it should only be touched by those who win it" stuff. If Go for Gin can eat oats out of the thing, than the Hockey Gods will permit me my moment. More on my Stanley encounter in a separate story.
The whole process at the draft is amazing; TV doesn't tell a quarter of the story. Teams' front offices go to the podium, the selection is made, the draftee goes to the stage for his photo op, and he's then whisked away to a separate area for his first interview, and then brought back for more photos. After that they go to their team's location on a platform to meet the press, under the watchful eye of NHL PR people. After answering questions, they pose for more pictures before being taken to another area. It's easy to see how it can all be overwhelming to a teenage kid.
The difference between hockey in Montreal and everywhere else: When Montreal drafted Louis Leblanc at number 18 in the first round; there were no less than seventy five members of the press surrounding him at his press conference. At Ranger pick Chris Kreider's Q and A? Maybe 10 people.
Add "attend a Habs-Leafs game at Bell Centre" to my bucket list. The atmosphere in that arena Friday night was incredible; I can only imagine what it must be like for a game.
The chant of "Six tee sev-ven" the Habs fans directed at the Maple Leafs fans in attendance had us all laughing. Having been on the short end of those chants ourselves, it is nice to see someone else bearing the brunt.
I learned this weekend that not only is SBNation is great network with great sites; it's also full of great people. Frank from Pensburgh, Travis from Broad Street Bullies, Matt from Bird Watchers Anonymous, Julian from Pension Plan Puppets, Brandon from Defending Big D, David from Die by the Blade, and Robert from Habs Eyes on the Prize are all terrific guys, I had a great time getting to know all of them. It was nice to see they are all just regular hockey fans like me, who love their team and want to do well for their readers. I'm actually sitting in the back seat of Frank's car as I write this, I hitched a ride to NJ with him and Travis, and Frank drives like he is attempting to break Clark W. Griswald's land speed sled record. Someday I will regale my Grandkids with the tale of how I got from the border crossing to Monmouth County NJ in less than 98 minutes.
Meeting Adam Graves.....as cool as it gets. My favorite all-time Ranger, and he further secured that distinction by treating me like he knew me for years. It was very hard at that moment to remain a "member of the press" and not turn into "starstruck fan", but I pulled it off.
I talked briefly with all of the Rangers beat writers that were there. Steve Zipay, Larry Brooks, and Michael Obernauer were there, and all treated me very nicely, especially Zipay, who I had a nice conversation with about Ethan Werek. That helped put me at ease, I had no idea what to expect from those guys.
A fantastic experience all around, and I can't wait to see where this all takes me next.