The NHL Draft is a pretty neat experience if you've never been. There's lot to do inside the arena besides the actual Draft itself. Typically, some ex-players will be around to sign autographs, there's a trading card show, the NHL trophies are on display along with the Stanley Cup, and there's a chance you could see a future superstar walking the concourse with some family members.
I went to the Draft in 2001 when it was at the then-National Car Rental Center in Sunrise, home of the Florida Panthers. While walking to see the Stanley Cup, I bumped into Montreal Canadiens draft pick (and Long Island neighbor of mine) Mike Komisarek right after he was drafted.
Once the Draft begins, there's really not a lot of buzz within the arena unless a big trade is announced or when the host city finally makes its selection. So if you're heading to Ottawa this weekend, here are five things you could do at the NHL Draft to add to your total experience:
Compare "monkey faces" with TSN's Darren Pang. This is something that could keep you busy throughout the length of the first-round and possibly spark a debate between Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire.
Act like you work for a team and try to make Kevin Lowe trade offers. Better yet, pretend like you work for the Anaheim Ducks and tell Lowe you're looking for a deal on behalf of Brian Burke. When you lay out a deal that sends Curtis Glencross for Chris Pronger and keep a straight face, that might be enough to finally have the two at-odds general managers speaking again. Okay, so Lowe might send some four-letter words across the Draft floor, but that's sure to be more exciting than every single NHL team thanking the host city of Ottawa when they're at the podium.
Put on a suit and pretend you're draft eligible. The key here is to have a young face. Just look at Patrick Kane last year; he was sporting some fresh acne the night of the Draft. For the most part, the only people wearing suits inside ScotiaBank Place on Saturday will be players waiting to get drafted, team executives and maybe some security/arena personnel. If you've got a baby face, why not pretend like you're awaiting your draft rights to be given away by Kevin Lowe through an offer-sheet? The best part is you'll have tons of young kids running up to you for pictures and autographs. Bonus points if you bring a jersey and wear it while walking the concourse -- you'll be swarmed in no time by reporters looking for a quote.
Bring a laptop, find a chair, and a team table and give your own scouting report on an upcoming pick. These days everyone can have their own blog and their own mock draft. Why not divulge your feelings on Luke Schenn and why you prefer Thomas McCollum over Chet Pickard? So what if you've only seen them through videos on YouTube or highlight packages in which Pierre McGuire calls them "monsters?" If Gary Coleman can manage the San Diego Padres, then you can be a scouting consultant for any NHL team.
Lick the Stanley Cup. The Cup and many of the big NHL awards are on display inside the arena during the Draft. Why not be able to tell your friends you French-kissed Hayden Panettiere?
Well, kind of. Maybe. OK, not.
Speaking of the Draft, our very own Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski will be in Ottawa this weekend covering the events live. Be sure to check back over the weekend as he gives us updates on the happenings up there. (Ed. Note: Buy him beers.) Maybe he'll be able to track down that writer who gave Jason Cullimore a fifth-place vote for the Norris Trophy or the genius who left Alex Ovechkin out of the top five in voting for the Hart Trophy?