26 June 2010

Is there a draft in here? (2010 Edition)

The 2nd Annual LW3H "not really live" live blog of the NHL Entry Draft: 2010 in Los Angeles, California

Following my efforts last year, this is...er, this year's crack at a totally after-the-fact commentary / cutting critique of the draft that you almost certainly could have already read elsewhere on your favourite social media platform as it was happening.

Once again, TSN's coverage of the event is being shown live here at the peak viewing time of midnight...Once again, they open with a risibly over-dramatic montage of the contenders for the first overall pick, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin...It features Seguin commenting that he's "not going to be all depressed and crying" if he goes #2 - no, you can leave that to watching Leafs fans

Host James Duthie immediately "throws it downstairs" (technical media term) to scoophound Darren Dreger, who fills us in on stories that the Oilers have been trying to secure the #2 pick to go with their #1...Apparently not looking likely, since Ales Hemsky clearly isn't the talented yet slightly flaky and injured winger it takes to obtain such a pick...A Canucks/Panthers trade, featuring Keith Ballard for Steve Bernier and the #25 pick is expected though

Elsewhere in Staples Center, Gord Miller is in his customary spot next to draft doyen Bob McKenzie and daft annoyance Pierre McGuire...B-Mac opts for the pronunciation "Seg-winn" as opposed to Duthie's "Say-gun" or "Say-gan"...P-Mac states he will be shocked if Hall is not taken by the Oilers

After last year's highly-entertaining miking up of Brian Burke on draft day, there's little sign of the same happening tonight, which is both a huge personal disappointment and understood to be the first recorded instance of Burke not wishing to offer his thoughts to the media...Taylor/Tyler are/is interviewed briefly - Hall revealing that they are not yet famous enough in La La Land to avoid being shunted away by photographers at a movie premiere

We cut to the draft party at Rexall Place in Edmonton...We learn that a local poll resulted in a 50/50 split of opinion between picking Taylor or Tyler - who knows how many of those polled just got the name the wrong way round anyway?...The fans there seem to be waving silver pom-poms for some reason - either that or there was a job lot of John Muckler fright wigs still lying around from last Halloween

The ritual Bettman boo suggests we are about to be underway...the commish appears to be suffering from a sore throat...as is now custom, he thanks all viewers everywhere...as is custom, "everywhere" excludes Europe

#1 - Edmonton Oilers select Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires - OHL)
GM Steve Tambellini gives the usual empty platitudes to the host city and the watching fans at the team's draft party (no French needed this year) and picks Hall...We soon hear the sound of the Rexall Place goal horn, for roughly the 12th time since last October...A few words with new coach and noted lexicographer, Tom Renney - most notable Rennyism: "the net is the end point"

#2 - Boston Bruins select Tyler Seguin (Plymouth Whalers - OHL)
Seriously, still nothing from Burke?! I reckon this would be a great point to hear his thoughts...No shock as Seguin is taken...A lot of depth at centre for the Bruins now - P-Mac and B-Mac concur that Marc Savard could be headed out of town (after Matt Cooke's unsuccessful attempt to elbow him out of town)...Duthie mentions that Seguin and his dad have matching tattoos...No further details of what/where though, intriguingly

Draftees will be getting jerseys with a number "10" on the back tonight...A quick check shows that the number has been retired by the Red Wings (Alex Delvecchio), Hurricanes (Ron Francis), Canadiens (Guy Lafleur) and Jets (and Coyotes?) (Dale Hawerchuk) - does this mean those teams will offer something else to display?...The Canucks/Panthers trade is fleshed out by TSN - it's Ballard and Victor Oreskovich for Bernier, Michael Grabner and pick #25, but the trade is still conditional

#3 - Florida Panthers select Erik Gudbranson (Kingston Frontenacs - OHL)
Another good Canadian boy, good Ontario boy, good Kingston boy (i.e. high Cherry marks)...Fluently bilingual with a Canadiens-supporting father (i.e. lower Cherry marks)...P-Mac notes that Gudbranson dwarfs everybody on the podium - true, but then Bettman got dwarfed when Brian Gionta was drafted...Miller suggests that GM Dale Tallon favours North American players, adding for emphasis: "Canadian and American"...I must confess that the Mexican impact on the NHL has been somewhat negligible (and yes, I am including Scott Gomez in that)

#4 - Columbus Blue Jackets select Ryan Johansen (Portland Winter Hawks - WHL)
Steve Yzerman is apparently desperately hoping for a defenseman to fall to #6 for the Lightning...Columbus GM Scott Howson decides to move things along swiftly by engaging in a lengthy conversation with Bettman on stage before moving to the podium...The selection of Johansen is "excellent news" to an uncharacteristically positive P-Mac...Someone should tell Pierre that he didn't actually get the Tampa gig...It then takes Johansen roughly ten minutes to reach the stage...Something tells me I'm not getting to bed any time soon

Back to Dreger for an update from the floor...The conditionality (yeah, it's a word) of the Canucks/Panthers deal is that the trade seemingly won't take place or will be subject to change if the player the Canucks want at #25 is still available

Everything still seems a bit quiet and predictable so far...Something is missing - I think it's the lack of a constant, loud and invasive noise that serves little or no purpose...Oh yeah, no Burke interview vuvuzelas! (I'll tip my hat to acknowledge the 10 millionth use worldwide of a variant of that joke)...Duthie livens things up - a chat with big-hitting NHL analyst Alyssa Milano...We learn that her dad was/is a Rangers fan...Miller throws in a needlessly gratuitous Wayne McBean reference

#5 - New York Islanders select Nino Niederreiter (Portland Winter Hawks - WHL)
Shoulderpad legend Garth Snow and the Wang entourage, including what seems to be a slightly large Wang Jr, take to the stage and select the first gutless Euro puke of the night...This affords the opportunity for P-Mac to bring out a couple of terrible Swiss cheese puns...El Nino is the highest ever Swiss draftee, beating the Oilers' selection of Michel Riesen at #14 in 1997...Riesen of course was a bust in North America, before returning home to the family business...Stevie Y is presumably smiling right now

Dreger informs us that the Oilers are still looking to acquire a second high first round pick

#6 - Tampa Bay Lightning select Brett Connolly (Prince George Cougars - WHL)
The TSN team are strongly expecting Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley to be taken here, but after stepping up to warm applause, the new GM instead picks a forward...A graphic compares Connolly's injury-plagued draft year to those of former picks Gord Kluzak, Rocky Trottier, Drake Berehowsky and Andrei Kostitsyn - all first ballot Hall of Famers, so no worries there for Lightning fans...Yzerman demonstrates in his interview that he has quickly mastered the vital GM skills of the NHL cliché and stonewall response

A quick feature on expected first rounder Jeffrey Skinner's figure skating background is shown...At least if the NHL career doesn't pan out, he can look forward to featuring on CBC's Battle of the Blades in 25 years time (surely still a staple of CBC's output in 2035, alongside the voice of Bob Cole, the suits of Don Cherry and the losing teams of the Toronto Maple Leafs)

#7 - Carolina Hurricanes select Jeffrey Skinner (Kitchener Rangers - OHL)
Right on cue, Skinner's name is called by Ron Francis...Still no Fowler or Gormley, unexpectedly...Francis does pass a #10 jersey to Skinner to wear and seems OK with it..."Last time you're wearing that, kid. Enjoy it while it lasts."

#8 - Atlanta Thrashers select Alexander Burmistrov (Barrie Colts - OHL)
Just before the Thrashers pick, a clip of Fowler features him saying: "You've got to be used to a lot of people watching you"...Might not be anything to worry about if you're heading to Atlanta, Cam...However, new Thrashers GM Rick Dudley - taking time out from Inside the Actors Studio to attend the draft - takes another forward...TSN's graphic cruelly states Comparable: Scott Gomez...Being known as the Russian Scott Gomez is possibly among the worst insults possible for a player in some parts of North America

Dreger chimes in with his first Leafs/Kaberle update...It's merely white noise without input from Burke though

#9 - Minnesota Wild select Mikael Granlund (HIFK - Finland)
As another forward is taken ahead of Fowler/Gormley, it's noted that D-men have slipped to the Rangers' spot before in recent times, when Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto were chosen...Not particularly paying attention for a moment...Er, Granlund is not a Finnish goalie (I never said you should come here for thorough analysis, OK?)

During a commercial break, I read that the Rangers staff are "huddling at the table"...Clearly, everyone is still trying to physically disguise the fact that Glen Sather died in 2003

#10 - New York Rangers select Dylan McIlrath (Moose Jaw Warriors - WHL)
As Sather's corpse is routinely and rightly booed onto the stage, P-Mac and B-Mac are smelling a Russian (and it's not Ovechkin's Cologne for once)...Hmm, don't think anyone was expecting McIlrath to go while Fowler and Gormley were still on the board...B-Mac is "blown away", P-Mac similar...Obviously way too early to cast judgement on these players, but Jessiman recent Jessiman history Jessiman gives Jessiman Rangers Jessiman fans Jessiman an Jessiman uneasy Jessiman feeling

#11 - Dallas Stars select Jack Campbell (US NTDP)
P-Mac is a bit confused by this one given the Stars' recent acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, though he (obviously) likes Campbell...B-Mac notes that Fowler and Gormley are "falling like Iraq" (or maybe it was "a rock" or "Laraque" - it's getting late...)

#12 - Anaheim Ducks select Cam Fowler (Windsor Spitfires - OHL)
Spirited booing from the LA crowd for the Ducks representatives...P-Mac is by now almost reaching in-game NBC shouting levels as he implores Bob Murray to pick Fowler or Gormley...As Fowler is finally taken, P-Mac then goes for the damning with faint praise approach by asserting that Fowler could be "as good as François Beauchemin"...Aiming high there

#13 - Los Angeles Coyotes of Glendale select Brandon Gormley (Moncton Wildcats - QMJHL)
Before getting picked, Gormley has a "**** me, I don't want to play in Phoenix" face going...He seems to cheer up a little by the time he gets to shake hands on stage though

#14 - St. Louis Blues select Jaden Schwartz (Tri-City Storm - USHL)
John Davidson leads a well-deserved tribute to draft favourite and stone-faced legend Jarmo Kekäläinen, who is soon leaving the Blues to dominate the Finnish hockey landscape...Jarmo calls up Schwartz...Noticeable that nobody drafted has handed his jacket to Bettman this year...There is some mention of similarity to Zach Parise in Schwartz - P-Mac somehow resists unleashing his latent Jessiman/Parise anger (check back in seven years for a similar McIlrath/Fowler rant?)

TRADE: Dale Tallon and Dean Lombardi are seen talking...Bettman then announces that pick #15 has gone to the Kings in return for #19 and #59 from the Panthers - a popular move with the home crowd

#15 - Los Angeles Kings select Derek Forbort (US NTDP)
P-Mac snaps out of his earlier mini-depression to raise some enthusiasm for the selection of Forbort...It seems to be a popular move with the LA crowd - we see an applauding Tobias Fünke lookalike in a Kings jersey

Bryan Murray is shown taking an important call: "No, Burkie. You can't screw me over this year. Congrats on picking Seguin and on your playoff run this year, by the way..."

TRADE: It's now a trade frenzy as Murray ships the #16 pick to the Blues for one of the dark-haired Swedish invasion from the 2009 draft, David Rundblad

#16 - St. Louis Blues select Vladimir Tarasenko (Sibir Novosibirsk - KHL)
More Jarmo! All business, as usual...On Tarasenko (who clearly has hockey teeth already), P-Mac says "all skill", B-Mac responds with "Balmochnykh"...No need to be so rude to Pierre, Bob. It's just an opinion

Time for a brief Bryan Murray interview...He reveals that the player he wanted (an unnamed forward) had gone, hence the trade...Nothing much to say about Jason Spezza trade talks...I seem to remember he said similar about Dany Heatley at the draft last year, so let's hope it drags on as long as the in-no-way-excruciating Heatley saga did

#17 - Colorado Avalanche select Joey Hishon (Owen Sound Attack - OHL)
The first "off the board" pick of the night according to B-Mac...The shock causes the normally smooth B-Mac to flap about searching for his notes on Hishon...I've still no idea what Greg Sherman looks like or if he was even on stage just then...Wouldn't recognise him if he got Darcy Tucker to scream "That's Greg Sherman!" in my face repeatedly from an inch away while sporting a Greg Sherman: That Way> tattoo on his forehead

#18 - Nashville Predators select Austin Watson (Peterborough Petes - OHL)
Watson is one of nine kids in his family, with a tenth on the way...Nervous laughter breaks out in the Sutter and Staal households (joke obviously - Sutters are physically incapable of human emotion)

BURKE! He's with Duthie, looking like a man 12 hours into a wedding reception...He defends the Kessel trade (shock) with no perceptible nasal growth and talks about offers for his D-men - not just Tomáš Kaberle, apparently...Throughout, Burke stares directly into the camera in a faintly menacing way, which I think has pierced two dark holes in my plasma screen

#19 - Florida Panthers select Nick Bjugstad (Blaine HS - USHS)
Minnesota's Mr Hockey for this year is selected by Director of Amateur Scouting, Scott Luce, who is forced to stoop over the microphones like everybody seems to - clearly they are not adjustable from the default Bettman setting...Bjugstad is said to have also been a skilled tennis player

#20 - Pittsburgh Penguins select Beau Bennett (Penticton Vees - BCHL)
Miller notes that Pittsburgh set the post-lockout model for success (tank long and tank hard?)...Bennett looks pleased at the prospect of being traded at the deadline in 2012 for impending UFA #467 to play on Crosby's wing...Bennett eschews tennis in favour of being a terrific piano player, we learn

The latest Dreger-flash is that Sergei Gonchar wants a three-year contract at upwards of $5m per, while the Penguins are sticking at two years...This programme is due to end in 12 minutes...Can we get through 10 picks in 12 minutes (known as the Jay Cutler ratio, I understand)?

#21 - Detroit Red Wings select Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame - CCHA)
Seemingly in reference to the absence of Wings Euro über-scout Håkan Andersson, P-Mac notes there is "no hocking on the podium" - this of course, a reaction to the unsavoury spitting incident between Ken Holland and Don Maloney at last year's event...Jim Nill eventually settles on "Shee-han" before being immediately corrected by P-Mac who is sure it's "Shay-han"...Scouts are said to be unconcerned at Sheahan's involvement in an underage drinking incident

We move to an interview in the stands with draft-eligible Jarred Tinordi and his ex-NHL father, Mark, who has clearly been strictly following the Brett Hull diet since his retirement

TRADE: Bettman - now starting to sound like Dave Manson - announces a flip of the Coyotes' #22 and #113 picks for the Canadiens' #27 and #57

#22 - Montréal Canadiens select Jarred Tinordi (US NTDP)
The Habs duly select Tinordi Jr...B-Mac says his leadership ability is "off the scale" - much like his dad's weight then...A big tug-of-war is expected between Notre Dame and the London Knights for the services of Tinordi next year...My money is on Notre Dame comfortably winning the tug-of-war before Dale Hunter severs the rope and blindsides the Athletic Director while the officials aren't looking...During his Duthie interview, GM Pierre Gauthier also looks into the camera while talking, but unlike Burke, he doesn't produce homicidal urges in me while doing so...The Rangers' selection of McIlrath now looks even more risky, considering Tinordi Sr has just eaten him

#23 - Buffalo Sabres select Mark Pysyk (Edmonton Oil Kings - WHL)
Pysyk is your typical solid, no-frills late first rounder, by all accounts...Presumably, he has a certain amount of mental toughness too, given the abuse his name must have attracted while at school

Certainly, there hasn't been the expected level of trade action so far...Dreger is spotted refereeing an impromptu sumo bout between Wang Jr and Tinordi Sr to kill time

#24 - Chicago Blackhawks select Kevin Hayes (Noble/Greenough - USHS)
With the pick aqcuired from the Devils via the Thrashers in the Byfugalchuk trade chain, the Hawks take a reach down the draft rankings...Hayes was a star of the draft combine, so we see shots of him bench pressing...No shots of him with his shirt off though - guess we'll have to wait until his first limo ride with Patrick Kane to see that

TRADE: Confirmation of the Canucks/Panthers deal from the commish, now sounding like Macy Gray

#25 - Florida Panthers select Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors - WHL)
Howden faced some adversity to get here - we see shots of him in a body cast as a kid...So he has the chance of being the first NHLer to overcome almost total immobility since Hal Gill

#26 - Washington Capitals select Evgeny Kuznetsov (Traktor Chelyabinsk - KHL)
Only George McPhee plus one other on the stage for the Caps, unusually...Has Burke acquired the rest of their staff to fill out the Leafs' rather bare looking front office?...Kuznetsov has two years left on his KHL contract, so no risk attached to this pick then...And a KHL contract is, of course, nothing if not synonymous with being water tight and a cast-iron guarantee of continued remuneration for Kuznetsov

#27 - Los Angeles Coyotes of Glendale select Mark Visentin (Niagara IceDogs - OHL)
Off the board pick number two, says B-Mac...We see a great "I wasn't expecting to hear my name before Saturday" face from Visentin replayed

As this thing drags on, we learn that John Isner and Nicolas Mahut just turned the coverage off because "it's just taking way too long"

#28 - San Jose Sharks select Charlie Coyle (South Shore Kings - EJHL)
Getting hazy now...Big body, bit of a project, extrapolated scoring...Balmochnykh...

Miller explains how the upcoming pick for the Ducks (via the Flyers in the Pronger trade) slipped from #10 to #29 as the evil Flyers sneaked into the playoffs and then ended up in the Cup Final...Thanks, Olli Jokinen!

#29 - Anaheim Ducks select Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat Tigers - WHL)
Conflicting feelings for the California crowd as the local SoCal product goes to the hated Ducks...Surely Etem was named after former Kings stalwart, Nelson Emerson?...In his interview, Etem says getting drafted was "almost like a blur" - I know the feeling...

TRADE: The Hawks deal pick #30 to the Islanders for #35 and #58...Bettman now sounds like Marge Simpson swallowing a jug of gravel

#30 - New York Islanders select Brock Nelson (Warroad HS - USHS)
Team Fishstick select the first round's 11th US-born player, which is a new record...Always slightly unnerving for the rest when the US starts taking an interest in a sport - next they'll start being successful in sah-ker or something crazy like that

Only time for a quick recap by TSN now, since this has taken just over four hours to complete...In a superb piece of spinning, the record selection of Americans is summarised in a table headed Canada Leads Way...Finally a promo for next week's main event, Free Agent Frenzy (subtitle: "It's a pile of crap this year!")

19 June 2010

Hungry for hockey?

Taking a lead from (OK, shamelessly ripping-off) the ever-excellent Down Goes Brown, and considering the kinship between fellow big-market NHL success stories, the Leafs and Rangers, I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to envisage a Ranger-themed menu.


(Click to enlarge. Graphic design skills admittedly lacking...)

10 June 2010

For crying out loud

The hockey world is today still reeling from last night's shocking and unprecedented event. Yes, the moment when millions of TV viewers across the US (OK, a few hundred thousand in Chicago and Philadelphia) witnessed Jeremy Roenick being lost for words.

Of course, as retired NHL cyborg Mark Messier would attest, crying simply is not tolerated in and around hockey. So what really caused JR's momentary eye-dampness?
  • Standing in close proximity to Mike Milbury for two months thirty seconds will do that to even the strongest of men
  • The sudden realisation that 95% of NHL news for the next four months will feature the thrilling words: "Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga"
  • "That bitch Chrissy Pronger was wearing the SAME outfit as me! And she knew it!"
  • The vapours from Scott Hartnell's post-game hairball fumigation had just wafted into the NBC set
  • The waning but beautiful memory of Dan Carcillo's graceful, languid skating and dextrous stickhandling in Game Three just wouldn't stop lingering in his mind
  • Hiding those pucks from Ben Eager exactly where Pronger told him to was starting to cause some physical discomfort