Welcome to Columbus......
After 10 hours of driving to Regina, jumping on a plane to Minneapolis and then connecting to Columbus, I'm checked in and ready to roll.
The hotel here is also the media headquarters and as I look outside my 16th floor hotel window at 11:30pm local time, I can see Nationwide Arena just across the street - the place where it all shakes down Friday night and Saturday morning.
I haven't seen much of this city yet, but by all accounts it's a gem in the mid-west. I can't wait to check some things out tomorrow like Ohio State University, the Arena District (which I'm told is THE place) and the downtown core. I'll post some pics tomorrow before it gets busy and everyone shows up from around the league.
Even though this is my 5th draft, the novelty never really gets old and it's always fun checking out a new city. What other reason in my life would I have to visit Columbus?
A hot humid night greeted me as I stepped out of the airport and onto the street....it was 85F today....pretty manageable.
If there is one part of going to the draft I can live without its the travel and the layovers at airports. I took a small RJ200 from Regina to Minny... or as I call it the "boneshaker". The small 50 passenger jet makes you eagerly anticipating the feeling of descending.
Then there's the hundreds of people walking around aimlessly in the airport yakking on their cellphone with the wireless headset. All seemingly having animated conversations that just can't wait. I killed a couple hours in Minneapolis at a Chili's Bar and Grill while waiting for a connecting flight. Some guy pulled up next to me and had an hour long cell phone conversation that reminded me of that commercial for Cingular Wireless....you know the "keep talking" one.
I did share a drink with a guy from London in the U.K. while he awaited his flight home. It turns out he works for a radio company that markets mini radios that you take into sporting events to pick up the local broadcast of the game. He was at the College World Series of Baseball with his product trying to close some deals. He said he hates flying and just wanted to find a way to sleep all the way across the Atlantic.... the triple straight-up Vodka he was sporting in his left hand I'm sure helped his case. Good night. He told me a great soccer joke I can't wait to tell Subway Dave when I get back to Swifty. Dave's a diehard (annoying) Chelsea soccer fan.....I would share it here but it flirts with an 18A rating.
I shared a flight to Columbus withe Gene Principe of Sportsnet. He covers the Oilers for the Rogers media conglomerate and was a late addition to the Sportsnet team. I guess Ian Mendez couldn't make it or something...haha.
What a nice guy. I like his work out of Edmonton. He seems to have a little flavour and character with his stories and gets along well with the players and Oilers coaching staff. Gene will busy, the Oilers have three first round picks.
Former Minnesota North Star tough guy Shane Churla was also on the flight. Churla now works with the NHL's Central Scouting. Safe to say I was a big Churla fan along with Basil Mcrae growing up as a North Star fan. I've seen him in several WHL rinks over the years as he works to compile their rankings.
The Swift Current Broncos unveiled their tentative schedule for the 2007-08 season. The club will start the year with the first 8 games on the road including an 8 day trip to Lethbridge, Calgary, Kamloops, Prince George and Edmonton only days into the campaign. The season opener you ask? September 21st in Moose Jaw. Hello Hunch! Get ready for some high and hard fastballs from this reporter. Should be fun.
The Broncos home opener with the renovations hopefully complete will be October 12th against the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings.
The team also has a six game U.S. swing in December to close off the first half of the season.
A complete schedule is available at http://www.scbroncos.com/ .
Regan Bartel is telling me and the rest of the world that Bruno Campese will be announced as the new head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders. Campese, a former assistant in Calgary with the Hitmen has most recently been the head coach of the Penticton Vees of the BCJHL.
Campese has already resigned from his position with the Vees.
Had an interesting phone call earlier this week.
"Jon, It's Joe Sakic"
Now that doesn't happen every day. Turns out he got my message relayed through his in-laws in Swift Current about the Danny Lambert feature I'm working on for next week's Hall of Fame. Danny and Joe and great friends and I asked him to give me a couple quick stories and and bits for the piece. He was great. Surprisingly, with all the alumni I've contacted over the years, that was the first time I've ever spoken to the surefire NHL Hall of Famer.
He's planning a quick stop in Swifty later this summer. It doesn't matter where he goes. He's a rockstar. Everybody loves Joe.
More tomorrow including some pics.
Thanks for stopping by,