Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Night at the Draft Party: Part One

Greetings from Erie, Pennsylvania!

This week, my new construction job (which I'm regretting taking more every day), has brought me to this little city on the shore of Lake Erie. Unfortunately, this is the second time in three weeks I've had to make the ten hour drive to a city which I've affectionately come to call "America's Armpit".

But this isn't about my new job or this hell-hole that I'll be staying at for the next week. This is all about the great job done by the Islanders this past weekend.

As a fan, the party was probably one of the coolest non-game events I've ever been to. It was a fans dream. There were locker room tours, interactive activities, and meet and greets with current and past players (Tim Jackman, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, and Bryan Trottier).

My night started out with a quick trip to Gate 9, the Blog Box. I walked in on Stephen Herrmann of doing his online radio show, and joined in. We spoke mostly about this years draft (about who should be picked and who probably would be picked), but also got into last years draft and how it panned out. Most of our conversation centered around Tavares, however, whenever Victor Hedman was brought up, Stephen gave me an open mic. Check out the entire discussion at Great job done by Stephen and Tony.

After that, Iwalked down to the ice level where all the festivities were going on. I ran into Katrina from the Lighthouse Group. She asked me to participate in a little "experiment they were doing, in which my friend and I stood in front of a camera and talked about what the Lighthouse meant to us and why Long Island needs it. I basically spoke about how as a 22 year old "super-senior" college student, many of my friends are leaving to go find jobs off of Long Island because it's so expensive. Then, I spoke a little bit about how the Islanders are a part of Long Island, and that the Island needs the Islanders. After we were done, we were told that our testimony could be used for the next Lighthouse video or commericial. For more about this, check out the lightpost blog. Great job to everyone at the Lighthouse Group.

After my visit with the people from the Lighthouse and a *few* drinks later (hey, it was my only night without work the next day in two weeks, cut me some slack) the draft was about to begin. As everyone who knows me is well aware, I have a self-described "man crush" on Victor Hedman, and as you may have read on The Tiger Track, I had officially jumped on the Matt Duchene bandwagon. Secretly (or not so secretly), I was hoping for the Islanders to select one of these two players. However, roughly 9,999 people at the Coliseum felt otherwise.

As the big screen showed video presentations of the two said players, boos louder than those given to Darcy Tucker in 2002 were heard. Finally after about three minutes of booing, John Tavares' picture came upon the screen, and the place erupted. I wonder who everyone wanted?

I decided to grab one of the Coliseum's famous pretzel twists before the pick was made. While walking along the concourse to find an open snack stand, I noticed a man walking past me wearing a three piece suit. Turns out, Islanders Senior Vice President Chris Dey was in attendance. I very cordially asked him if he had any idea who Garth was picking, and with the sneakiest smile, he quickly responded "no idea". Note to self: next card game I have, be sure to invite Chris Dey, the dude has no poker face.

Considering I've been driving for over ten hours today, I'll stop here and tell you all about the rest of my night tomorrow. Thanks for listening.

*Quick note*: Good luck to my hockey team tonight, as they have the first round of the playoffs tonight. Go Ducks! Wish I could be there with ya.

Friday, June 26, 2009

T-Minus 4 Hours

It's officially been 78 days since I've last sat at this computer and have written about our favorite hockey team. Working 55-60 hours of construction a week will do that to you...

In less than four hours, the Islanders will name their newest player with the first overall pick in the draft, and in doing so will do one of two things: either 1) make ALMOST everyone in the building feel ecstatic, and more importantly, proud to be an Islanders fan, or 2) select someone not named John Tavares first overall, and Snow, Jankowski, and company will see a faint glow to the south from Montreal. That faint glow, of course, will be the burning of the Nassau Coliseum.

Anyone who has read this blog knows how I feel about John Tavares. It's not that I don't love him as a player, but I'm more enamoured by the mammouth defenseman from Sweden, and have now officially joined the "Matt Duchene Man-Crush" bandwagon.

When asked on the way home from my rain-shortened workday how my perfect draft would pan out, I could only respond, "there's no way we can get all three?"

Who do I think the Isles WILL take? John Tavares. No question. He's been the consensus best available prospect this year. He's broken almost every scoring record in the OHL, and has drawn comparisons to the likes of Islanders great Mike Bossy. Not to mention, if the Islanders do not select him, you may not see a full seat for opening day this season.

Who do I think the Isles SHOULD take? Matt Duchene. True, you don't draft according to the system your coach runs, but a two-way center with blazing speed, phenomenal vision, great hands and a scoring touch is almost too good to pass up. He's being compared to the likes of Joe Sakic, and one of my all time favorites, Stevie Y. Of all three top prospects, I can see him having the bet career.

Who do I want? Victor Hedman. I'm not having this argument anymore. If you want to know why I'm so in love with Hedman, just read some of my earlier posts. You build your team from goaltender out, and with Mr. 2021 a huge question mark for next year, the Islanders really should booster up that D-line, because, let's face it...we are not signing J-Bo, Komi, or even (another favorite and LI boy) Rob Scuderi.

This draft will either make or break the Islanders in the future. If whomever they pick doesn't pan out, the second guessing will never end. Lets just hope for the sake and safety of everyone at the Coliseum, the pick's name starts with a T and rhymes with "Lavares".