Saturday, June 27, 2009

For the Picks, For the Fans

The Entry Draft has come and gone for another year and you can pick and choose who you want to say who picked well, who picked suspiciously, who may have given up too much, and who’s going to get the 26th pick this time around. However, this one thing I thought about was spirit of this whole thing, to steal a line from Charlestown Chiefs beat writer Dickey Dunn.

History lesson: I started going to Drafts at the ripe age of 19 in Toronto in 2002. When I got there, it wasn’t that big of a festive thing. It just seemed like some people saw something was going on and glided into the Air Canada Centre just because they had nothing better to do. The next Draft in Nashville, I wasn’t expecting much under the assumption that because if a devoted hockey market like Toronto couldn’t get up for something, what would Nashville put out??

Boy, was I wrong.

The Sommet Center was alive with fans, lots of reactions, lots of glamour, lots of just fun times by fans and media alike. Granted, after the Predators make their pick in the early first round, the mass exodus happened, but regardless—the thing was that they showed up and put Toronto to shame for turn out. The same went for Raleigh, Vancouver, Columbus, Ottawa, and this year in Montreal. The energy in a place like the Bell Centre is amazing just to have that feeling for the pick they made (Louis LeBlanc), what is this place like when there’s a playoff OT winner??

Now you have blogs blowing up at a rapid rate, you have Tweet-ups going round and round in order to get more fans connected to each other, and you have everyone getting together for a somewhat common goal. The Draft is the perfect spot to do it because not only can you meet people in your own area, but you have those coming from all over the place for a vacation to meet up with and connect with. It could be a good thing or a bad thing, just depends on how you see things at the time.

Plus, you while you have the host fans there in droves and cheering their team whilst booing their rivals, the hospitality from them are great wherever. It seems this could be the only time where the cease-fire of sort is put in place. People are at the bars drinking with each other, joking, drinking—it’s a fun time had by all until the bars close up and you go back to your homes, hotels, cars to sleep it up for the next day. It’s an event like no other for fans and seems to just grow building to building. You just have to hope that maybe, just maybe—it can keep the momentum up wherever it lands net year, which is still yet to be determined.

While it’s a great two-days for those kids getting picked and taking the next step in their hockey careers, on a personal level, it’s a great day for fans because people whom they’ve only corresponded with on emails, message boards, blog post—they are meeting for the first time and putting a personal aspect to their comments, good, bad, and indifferent. It creates for a tighter knit community, a better understand of where people are coming from, and just how much they really know when they aren’t with their statistics in front of them. Plus, it may create a light-hearted atmosphere for even the most hardened of hard-asses. Good times for all, that’s for sure.

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