Monday, June 16, 2008

Ottawa Bound

Just two days 'till I head east to Ottawa for the NHL Entry draft.

I'm fortunate to work for a company that is willing to send me out a few days early to get the lay of the land and take in all the events that go along with the annual NHL pick'em. Swift Current may be WHL small market but the way I'm treated by the radio station and the Broncos is top notch.

This will mark the 9th year Golden West Radio has had representation at the draft. It all started with Regan Bartel and myself heading to Calgary for the 2000 event. At the time, Regan was the WHL veteran broadcaster and I was the young understudy bright eyed and energised.

I was more pumped to meet some of the national members of the sports media than the actual draft itself. Just a year into my radio career, I felt like I was in hollywood. The center of the hockey and sports universe.

I wasn't shy either. I would walk up and introduce myself if the moment presented itself. I remember guys like The Score's Elliot Friedman (who now works for CBC) being so genuine and friendly. Almost more interested in who I was than me of him.

I had a chance to get some advice for Calgary Flames Radio voice Peter Maher. Bob Mckenzie was great. So many NHL GM's and former players just feet away mingling about. It was awesome.

Joe Kenward than represented the station at drafts in Florida, Toronto and Nashville.

After stops in North Caroilna, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Columbus.... here we are. Ottawa 2008.

I'm ok with going back there. It will be different in the sense it's at Scotia Bank Place as opposed to a hastily put together draft at the Westin Hotel in 2005.

Ottawa is a beautiful city but I still have that feeling of "been there, done that." Nonetheless, it will once again be where everyone in the hockey world will gather for the weekend.

It's always good to see the familiar faces that go with the draft. The scouts, the Red Line guys, the paper and internet reporters. Other WHL personnel, Kelly (Mr.) McCrimmon.....

The Broncos are sending GM Dean Chynoweth and Assistant GM Elden Moberg. Both attended the WHL scheduling meeting today in Calgary. There should be a tentative league schedule sent out in a matter of days.

Not sure if any of the other broadcasters in the league will be going. I've tried to convince Regan in Kelowna to set-up shop for a few days with Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers surefire 1st rounders. I don't think it's in the plans though.

Rod Pedersen in Regina has been there for several years but I'm told will not be headed there this year. Too bad, we had some fun last year.

I'm exited for this year's event because of all the WHL talent in the mix. The league could see 12-14 first rounders. Unlikely but possible. I'll have my "Go WHL" foam finger going in the thrall of media risers. Im also interested to see where Geordie Wudrick goes. Perhaps we will see Matt Tassone's name on the board. Dale Wiese, Zack Smith and Jan Dalecky may also get the nod. Eric Doyle is still in the mix after being passed over last year.

I'm not a hardcore draft junkie compared to some of the others attending the event. Some of the guys who work for the independent scouting services live and die with every pick as they try and predict and prognosticate who is going where and when. It's fun to watch. Some of the guys are really keyed in.

The last time I was in Ottawa my brother met me there. With security pretty lax at the Westin Hotel I got him into the media risers in my makeshift booth for a bit. He was my technician for the weekend... at least that's what I told NHL officials. He took a few pictures and acted more like a tourist. I can't blame him I guess.

That year the league was just coming off the lockout and was in a making friends kind of mood. They granted all access to most of the reporters. One-on-one interviews with any of the top picks. I had Sidney Crosby for three whole minutes just after he was drafted by the Penguins. Get in line TSN. Hell, Gary Bettman probably would have co-hosted my radio show had I asked. They were doing their best to be as accommodating as possible. It was a treat.

I plan to take the digital camera and post some pics from the event this year. It should be fun.

Stay tuned....


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