(Ed. Note: Gabriel Landeskog was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog, a CCM athlete, agreed to write a few guest posts around the draft day process. Here's the final entry.)
By Gabriel Landeskog
The morning of the NHL Draft started earlier than I thought it would.
My alarm was set at 11 a.m. because I wanted the morning to go by fast without having to think about the big night; and plus, I thought I deserved to sleep in. But that was easier said than done: I woke up clear awake at 7:30 a.m. I tried getting my mind off of the Draft by going to the gym. After an hour of sweating, I felt a lot better. Even though I wasn't nervous (surprisingly), I had a good feeling in my stomach.
The day was an off-day in a sense of interviews and media availability, which was good and just allowed me to relax. My buddies stayed at a different hotel and I told them to meet me at my hotel around 1:30 p.m., because we were having lunch with my family, Jonas Brodin's family, and Rikard Rakell's family. Lunch was awesome: We went to this place close to the Xcel Center, I had a salmon and it was truly amazing, great way to get ready for the big day!
After lunch it was about 4 p.m., so we headed over to the arena. As soon as I saw the building, something happened inside of me. My heart started beating faster. Maybe the nerves finally started to come?
After getting mic'd up and taking a couple of pictures we started walking around in the rink; it was a lot bigger and more crowded than I had expected. Instead of going to my seat right away, I decided to take a lap around the arena to see what it was like and to see some fans and excited kids. I think it helped me to control my nerves and to let loose a little bit by talking to fans and signing some autographs to the kids that were there.
It really is a humbling thing every time I sign a kid's hat. It feels like it was just yesterday I was in their shoes asking my boyhood idols to sign things for me. Having been there, I think it definitely helps me to put a smile on their faces and they put a smile on mine.
There was a shooting ramp outside one of the gates and I thought I might as well try it to get loose and have some fun. There was a tire placed in the middle of the net, the exact same thing I've done in my backyard since I was 10 years old. I took my jacket off and grabbed a stick. I went one out of seven I think.
At about 5:30 I had to be in my seat. As soon as I sat down and started to look around at the stage — at the floor with all the teams, the players and their families around me — I started to get extremely nervous.
I had told my agent earlier in the day that even if he somehow knew where I was going and when, he wasn't allowed to tell me. I didn't want to know, I wanted to be nervous and I wanted to hear my name get called without knowing it was coming.
When my name got called, it was a huge relief, to finally be able to do the signature procedure of standing up with a huge smile on my face and hug all my family and friends that were there to support me, it was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
Walking up on that stage was a moment I have always dreamt about, but never been able to see myself there. Now I was there, living it first hand.
After putting on the Avalanche jersey for the first time I didn't really want to take it off. I had pictures of Peter Forsberg(notes) and Joe Sakic(notes) and the 2001 Stanley Cup winning team up on my walls growing up as a kid back home in Stockholm, and now wearing that jersey was truly something special.
The procedure behind the scenes after being picked was full of media scrums, photo shoots, more interviews and signings. It is an experience that every kid playing hockey dreams about. I am extremely fortunate to be in my position and especially knowing there is a lot of others out there who dream about being in my position one day. To those of you who are, I only encourage you to work hard for your dream.
The draft was a week I will always remember, a week that was full of new experiences and a lot of fun and great times. To me though, I only see it as a starting line to something very exciting and hopefully to the rest of my life. It is with hard work and a lot of dedication that got me to where I am, that is why it's especially important to remember what got me here and to keep doing that.
Thank you all for following me this week, I have had a lot of fun with this and hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks also to Puck Daddy who invited me on here.
Hopefully I'll see you guys soon again …