Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things I would prefer to watching the NHL draft...

Randall and I got into it yesterday a little. The contentious issue was the NHL draft, Randall saying that it was as big as the Cup finals. Which may well be true for actual NHL general managers and scouts and executives. And certainly, it's bigger for all those kids who are draft-eligible this year. And their friends and family. But for the rest of us? As big as the Cup finals? Come on. I just don't see Senators fans sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for that 18th pick to come around so our team can select a defenseman or a left-winger that virtually none of us have ever heard mentioned before. After the top ten selections, there are likely no more players that the average fan of NHL hockey would know. So, after an hour on Friday, then we just wait for it all to end...and it's nice that the draft is held here in Ottawa, and that it's sold out. It looks like the players being drafted have big families and lots of friends. And that there are quite a few hockey-mad maniacs like Randall.

But the rest of us, as average fans, are not quite as excited as we were for the Cup finals. As I said to the hockey mom who called me an idiot yesterday, it's only hockey moms with a vested interest who truly care about this event. Imagine this for a moment - and the tickets are free, so you could have gone to do this had you wanted to and had you planned it early enough - you go to Scotiabank Place on Friday. You are a giant hockey fan, and all the biggest names in hockey are there, in the same arena you are! Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Clarke, Brian Burke! Oh, there aren't many current players, because they find the draft staggeringly boring and will wait to find out who their new team-mates are. Ottawa might trade for Ollie Jokinen, but he isn't there when we do. He doesn't walk over and put on that Senators sweater and pose for pictures. He lounges on a golf course in Florida and gets informed by blackberry.

So you're seeing the biggest stars of yesteryear who are still involved with their organization in some way. Steve Yzerman, and so forth. Not watching them play hockey, mind you, but watching them sit at a table. You're in the nosebleed section, and from there you can just make out the back of Yzerman's head as he enters into a deep discussion with Mike Babcock about who their team might pick with the twenty-eighth overall choice. And then - wait - is that Pat Verbeek himself walking over to the table? I don't know, it's a guy in a suit...wait, is that Yzerman at all? Is that even Babcock? Is that the Red Wings table? Maybe it's Gretzky...oh, I wish they had their numbers on the back of those suits...after a nine-minute discussion, they announce that they are in fact the Red Wings, and a fourth guy you haven't even seen before makes the announcement that they select some guy you might have seen in passing during one of those junior hockey mega-brawls that actually made it to Sportscentre.

At the end of day one, your team may have traded twice. They may even have made two picks in the opening round. And there may be four new players on your roster. Now, it's not like you're going to acquire Joe Sakic or Jarome Iginla on draft day. You might get Ollie Jokinen or Gary Roberts. Which is fine, but it isn't earth-shattering. Every now and then, there is one, or maybe there are two players, who are so highly-touted that everyone knows who they are and fans are excited at the prospect of drafting high so they can pick up those players who could change their team. The last one to come along was Sidney Crosby. Not exactly a tense scene on draft day when Pittsburgh picked him up, was it? The one before that - Alexander Daigle. Ottawa's best player for the last ten years, and still today, is Daniel Alfredsson. He went 133rd overall, in the sixth round, in 1994. I don't recall anyone standing up and cheering for that selection at the time - we didn't know he was going to make the team, let alone be a massive star, at the time. We had to wait until he started, you know, playing some hockey. (The Senators have been good in the later rounds - they took Pavol Demitra #227 in 1993.)

Whew! Thank goodness the draft is televised, so those of us who couldn't get into the Scotiabank Place to watch this thrill-ride live can still watch from the comfort of our own homes! The only way to make draft day actually exciting would be to put all the draft-eligible players into a hat, and pull them out one at a time with each team picking a name out. Then, maybe, you could sit on the edge of your seat hoping the Senators get this year's Sidney Crosby (Steven Stamkos? I guess?). Or this year's Brian Lawton or Alexander Daigle. Who knows? So why bother sitting through draft day with anticipation and held breath when you won't have any idea whether you achieved actual success until three, four years from now? Here are some things I would rather do on Friday and Saturday, instead of watching the interminable 91 hours of draft-day TV coverage.

Mowing my lawn
Pulling my weeds
Taking up knitting
Learning needlepoint
Listening to Quiet Riot
Reading Valerie Bertinelli's book
Watching The View
Collecting spiders
Fighting off armed assailants
Watching a house get painted, watching the workers pack up their brushes and ladders, and then watching that paint dry
Watching my flowers grow in my backyard, taping the process so I can speed up the tape later and make it look like they're really growing, but faster.

So on Saturday, I will be re-watching the best DVD to come out this week, the best biopic of the past decade, "Control". It's the story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division in the late 70s, and it's magnificent. If you're going to be in the house, do this. And leave the draft day watching to Randall and the hockey moms.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eric,I some what,have to disagree.Like Randall has expressed,to see if all those early morning practices,& on the road tourny's & Years of hard work & support,to see your boy get called up & put on that first Bigg's Jersey.
    & there'e the Chess Game of the drafting,,to thinking,& Trading & Gambling as to whom is gonna pick whom,,& Couple of pass times you forgot were ,,,,Watching Oprah,& t5he Old Fella a couple of floors down from me walking out on his balcony in his underwear only & digging his finger knuckle deep into the Itchy hemroid swollen arse.I'm still waiting for him to smell his finger.
    I'm not to involved in hockey,& the draft anymore,so I'll watch the old man,in hopes he gets some pants or preporation H,,,Peace & O & O,,,PJR.