Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Jon Jordan on 01/28/11 at 07:25 PM ET
Funny… In chatting with several casual hockey fan friends and family of mine about being in Raleigh here for ASG weekend, a mention of “The Draft” as part of the festivities has led to a pause in each case and a question along the lines of, “Wait, what? They’re having the draft at the All-Star game now?”
Of course, they don’t know any better - that it’s juuust a “fantasy” draft for an exhibition game.
We do, but if we didn’t, judging from walking around Fan Fest at the Raleigh Convention Center today, where the draft will be held, this silly little pick ‘em event is being taken pretty seriously.
Granted, Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal aren’t exactly holed up in “war rooms” or anything but the league and its broadcast partners are certainly planning on putting on a first-class show. The set for the draft is aces (and enormous!) and the commentators and analysts from TSN and Versus were intently rehearsing each and every “pick”, with Darren Dreger playing Staal and Matthew Barnaby assuming the role of Lidstrom.
The bet here is, if Team Lidstrom gets the first pick, Tampa Bay’s own Steven Stamkos will go #1, largely on the influence of alternate captain Martin St. Louis, while, if Team Staal goes first, I say he goes with his own goaltender, Cam Ward, in the top spot.
The format’s a little quirky but, if nothing else, it’s generated some serious excitement for an event that had become pretty drab.
As we toured Fan Fest before the public was let in, it was nice to be able to put faces to names for some with whom I’ve chatted for years, as I stopped and said hello to XM Home Ice 204’s Sean Lavigne and Jamie Shalley during a break in their broadcast and bumped into an old colleague at Versus.com and elsewhere in Brian Metzer, now of the web site From the Point as well.
I also met NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for the first time today and he did not permanently banish me from all future league events upon that introduction, as some longtime JJ fans may have expected.
As I wrap up this quick update, we’re about to head back down to the Convention Center for pre-draft player availability and will then set up home base in the media room next door to watch the picks unfold.
While everyone and their mother will be relaying the pick-by-pick results as they happen, I’ll spin that a bit with my personal reaction, remembering that this is all in good fun, of course (as should you). So, please, follow along on Twitter - @JonJordan - should be a good time!
More later on tonight as well.
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