I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 NHL Draft on both days, 1 and 2. I have nothing to report as far as the picks that has not already been released, but please read the sites Faceoff Factor and The PensNation for detailed information on the prospects. You won’t find better coverage than what these guys have provided!
Here, I will recount my personal journey through the two days of the draft.
The Pens, just as they did with the Winter Classic, did everything they could to ensure a smooth execution of the event and to draw attention to our beautiful city. The prospects played street hockey on the Clemente Bridge, took batting practice at PNC Park, and much more. Outside of Consol, a synthetic rink was set up open to public skating and also hosting local teams at the AE Gate.
The corridors of Consol Energy Center were lined with vendors, hosting interactive games, photo opportunities, and selling collectors items for fans. Prospects milled around, signing autographs and enjoying everything CEC has to offer. The Stanley Cup was on display and available to take a photo with, as well as all of the league awards.
My son and I arrived and first watched a local team play on the synthetic rink. We then ventured up to the South Lot of “Mellon” for the Draft Pre-Party. Local band Lovebettie was performing and a few vendors offered interactive games, such as shooting accuracy and table hockey.
After the Pre-Party, we headed inside to do a little bit of Draft shopping. Can’t go home without Draft tshirts, hats, coffee mug, hockey stick, and hoodie!
Our seats were in the lower bowl, courtesy of one of my favorite readers and the top Winner of Sherobucks, Gregg (@gerg27 on Twitter). Sitting among fans from cities scattered across the continental US and Canada was an interesting experience. The whole row in front of us was guys from Toronto, and a few rows behind, filled with Capitals fans. Many Pens fans as well, but there was honestly a really nice mix of people around us: Bruins fans, Jets fans, Blue Jackets Fans. Hearing the cheers and thoughts of other fan bases was refreshing.
The Toronto fans were not that pleased with Brian Burke when he didn’t draft Filip Forsberg in the 1st round. Pens fans were livid when he went to Washington. Honestly, at least the people in my row weren’t too pleased when Shero passed on Forsberg. A bit stunning that it took so long for such a sought after prospect to get drafted.
My complaint of the night: Some people simply did not belong there. There were die hard fans from all over the country and far corners of the world at Consol but then there were the compulsive whiners, the fans that you can never please, and then the people who had no clue what was going on.
I am all for learning about sports. But when you are in the learning process, you may want to NOT do what the girl behind my friend and I did. It was apparent that she had absolutely NO idea about anything. She actually asked me some questions, and I gave her answers regarding how the draft works, how trades work, etc. I am more than happy to answer a person’s question when they are trying to wrap context around a new concept.
However, as someone CLEARLY new to the hockey universe, these comments were just astounding. My friend was wearing a Teemu Selanne Jets jersey. She tapped him on the shoulder and quite aggressively inquired if it was a Rangers jersey and all but demanded why a Pens fan would wear a Rangers jersey. He answered no, that it was a Jets jersey. “Are you lying to me?” she snapped at him. Wow. Just…wow. Easy girl. You are at a HOCKEY event. This was not a PENS event. This is a hockey event where all teams are celebrated. Pittsburgh is simply the host city. While Pens fans were there in mass numbers showing support for our own new prospects and mingling with people from other parts of the country, no one was really in a judgmental mood. Oh, except for boo-ing the Flyers, Capitals, and Habs. But that is expected. Come on.
Her other phrase that paid: “Awww he is cute! We should all cheer for him! Let’s cheer for this guy! He’s so cute!” *Face palm* Oh please. Please be quiet. That was repeated over and over for almost every prospect. And then she started talking about how the draft is stupid and the concept is dumb. Then why exactly are you here?
Anyway, aside from her and the Pens “fan” a few rows ahead of us mocking Crosby’s “headache” when they would show video footage of him, we were honestly surrounded by really really cool and interesting people.
Craig Patrick sat across the aisle from us for a few minutes. I took an opportunity to nab his autograph. Also, met Olli Maatta and got his signature as well. We met the Cup Handler, which was pretty awesome. The line to see the Cup was too long for my son to tolerate. Instead we looked at Geno’s Trophy Case and I contemplated grabbing the closest trophy and just running in a circle with it above my head and then setting it back down.
Now, as for our time watching the draft, obviously the most exciting moment of the night was the Jordan Staal trade announcement. As soon as the Hurricanes were up for their pick and Bettman said there was a trade announcement, we just knew. Everyone knew.
City of Stunned, yet overall very pleased people. (I will write more on the Staal trade and the Michalek trade later tonight. It deserves its own place.)
This is what people love about the draft. The new prospects are great, but this is what keeps fans going in the off-season. The insane trades, free agency, rumors, and dreaming of the moment that your team reveals that they just got a little bit better.
Day two wasn’t quite as exciting as Day one. Some fantastic drafts were made by many teams. The Pens especially drafted some very great and talented players. It moved very quickly, but taking in the atmosphere and sharing the experience with the players and their families was special. Seeing moms and dads crying tears of joy as their sons went to receive his jersey really warms the soul.
This is what it’s all about. The business aspect of sports is exciting. It is hard not to form an emotional bond and attachment with your team, but in the end, sometimes people just have to leave. It’s part of the game and I wouldn’t change that for the world!
Congratulations to all of the 2012 Prospects who were drafted this weekend and good luck in whatever your careers may hold!
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