The weekend in Montreal began with a bang on Friday night as the Flyers acquired Chris Pronger. From that moment on, before the draft had technically even begun, the climax was over for fans of the orange and black. The splash was made -- the message was sent, you could say. It was all down hill from there.
But there were a lot of other goings on in Montreal this weekend that deserve comment.
- The first night of the draft is like night and day compared with the second, but they each have very strong pros and cons. It's painfully clear that the first round of the draft is WAY too long. It took the same amount of time to complete the first thirty picks as it did to complete the final 181, thanks to all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the first round. The crowd, the lights, the attention, the hype. That all has it's place and it's all good, but when it takes so long to finish because of all those things, day one of the draft certainly loses it's luster. Let's be real, how many of you watched the entire thing?
- Day two, on the other hand, might go a little too fast. I walked to the press interview area following one of the Flyers picks and when I got back to my seat on the draft floor, almost 30 picks had been made. I was only gone for a half hour, tops. It's hard to feel comfortable roaming around talking to people when you feel like you're missing so much. The second day has a feel like the front office guys all have flights to catch at 5 PM or something.
- Eklund makes all bloggers look bad -- physically and professionally.
- Besides the actual draft, the best part of the weekend was putting names to all of the faces we read around the web everyday. I was fortunate enough to meet eight different SBN bloggers -- Robert of Habs Eyes on the Prize, Brandon of Defending Big D, Dave of Die By The Blade, Matt of Bird Watchers Anonymous, Julian and Chemmy of Pension Plan Puppets, Jim of Blueshirt Banter, and Frank of Pensburgh. Each and every one of them were entertaining, respectful, funny, and most of all, they know their hockey. Side note: Frank set a world land speed record on the way home from Montreal. You'll be hearing the legend from your grandkids when you're 80. I also had the chance to meet several other great, non-SBN people -- too many to name. But it reaffirmed my belief that hockey people are some of the nicest, most open people on Earth.
- On that same note, us bloggers were treated very cordially by most members of the traditional media. Sure, there are always a few jerks, but I didn't have any negative run-ins with any of the press. At the same time, however, the wall between new and traditional media is still made of solid concrete. Many of them -- and again, not all of them -- simply do not appreciate what we do. That's fine, and even understandable to a degree from their perspective. But as the media world continues to expand onto the screen and away from print, the wall will come crumbling down. Our inclusion in this weekend's events is just the first step.
- I was also shocked at how many newspaper writers seemingly hate their lives. Seriously -- I witnessed some of the most grumpy people in the world this weekend. Many of them realize that they have jobs that millions of people would kill to hold and seem very appreciative, but others just seemed like the life had been sucked out of them. I couldn't tell you why so many journalists gave off that vibe, but I was floored by it.
- If you've ever been to Boston, you know how crazy they are for the Red Sox. Take that obsession, multiply it by 100, and you have an idea of how hockey-crazy Montreal is. It was an unbelievable atmosphere for a draft; I can't imagine what it'd be like for a game. The back and forth between the Leaf fans and Hab fans was fantastic cinema, and Leafs GM Brian Burke went up several notches in my book for his participation. I've never liked Montreal fans because they come off as arrogant and elitist, but his weekend completely changed my opinion. Of course, being insane about hockey has it's downfalls. When you're chanting "Louis, Louis!" for draft pick Louis Leblanc before he even gets selected, the kid has to feel some pressure.
All in all, it was an excellent weekend in a beautiful Canadian city. I'm already looking forward to next year's draft.