Sunday, June 22, 2008

Draft Day ‘08: A more Personal recollection

I had a hard time working all afternoon Friday. IslanderQueen knew I was nervous and excited, and played on it by calling me every hour and telling me what time it was. We were giggling it up by 3:30 pm. By 4:15 pm, I couldn’t work anymore. I grabbed my bag of tricks and went into the Ladies room for my usual quick change. Half way through it, I realized how foolish I was being. Why change once again in the office bathroom when I could change in the luxury of my best friend’s house with a nice glass of wine and a better mirror.

At 4:55 pm, I was heading to the car and my cell phone rang. “What wine goes with pizza?”
Be still my heart. Pizza AND wine? She IS my best friend!

“Beaujolais or a Petit Syrah.” There is laughter on the other end of the phone. “What? Beau-zah-what? Pinot Grigio?”

“No.” I said. Red wine goes with Pizza. Get Beaujolais or a Petit Syrah.” I didn’t even want to start explaining that the real wine that goes with Pizza is Chianti.

“’I’ll get the one I can pronounce. Did you leave yet?”

“I’m leaving now. I’ll be there in 20 minutes.” (If the traffic Gods are with me.) They were and I arrived at IQ’s for a quick dinner and a quick change. Webb20 was already there relaxing in front of the big screen. 4Cupz answered the door and within minutes asked me “So, are you ready to witness the train wreck?” I laugh because all I can really think about is whether I will be able to ask Buccigross the questions that I’ve printed out at work.

IQ and I take over the bathroom while the boys watch 4Cupz’ Father’s day present, the new Islander dinner video. With the hot iron heating, makeup strewn across the sink and IQ still undecided between three outfits, we actually managed to get ready to leave by 6:20 pm. There was still wine left in the bottle, but I wanted to be at the Coliseum by 6:30 pm.

The contrast in our outfits spoke volumes. I looked like an Islanders cheerleader; IQ was stunning in red and black. (Get it now? ) We walked out onto the main floor with its Arena Football Astroturf making me wobble on my 5” orange heels.

“I know. This is where I loose you.” She looked at me as if she was leaving me at a train station. “Run off to your Blog Box. I’ll go find Tom.” I searched for PR guy Adam to find out where we were going to be stationed for this shindig. Much to my surprise, we were all squeezing into the penalty box side. Katie Strang from Newsday and Brad Kurtzberg from Inside Hockey were in one section, the Blog Box bunch in the center and then Steve and Tony from IslesNation on the end were broadcasting live. Other than the tight quarters at our table, it was a perfect set up. As I was late arriving, Brad offered to make room for me at their table, but I didn’t want to seem like I was deserting my group. No, no. We are a team, and we suffer together. We are a tight bunch and actually, I’ve missed them a little.

“Hurry up; we’re going live at 6:45!” Adam told me. “What? Huh? Live what?” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant but I tried to get up and running as quickly as possible. I didn’t’ realize he meant THEY in OTTAWA were going to be LIVE at 6:45 pm. A little more detail would have been helpful.

Unlike Tom and Mike who complained to IslesNation Steve on the radio about their internet connection in Ottawa, we had no problem at the barn. As friends were passing me by they said “Hey Dee! What? You get TWO MINUTES for Blogging?” over and over again. Moreover, as is my usual Blog Box style, once everyone had settled in nicely, I decided I needed to get a drink and made everyone move again. He he he he… I am evil. Therefore, everyone had to stand up to let me out, because they ARE indeed gentlemen.

I was told in the afternoon that the regular concessions would be open and there would be beer. Silly me! I thought that would mean beer and WINE, which is normally for sale at the regular concessions on the lower level. Um, nope. They must now be run by the same Anti-Feminist group that runs the Rock in Jersey that seems to think wine has no place at sporting events. Get your act together!

I met MMinge from NYIC on the floor and we walked over to take a look at the cool new Islander I.C.E tour RV. I am such a gypsy. I could live in that thing. It is beautiful inside. Everything you need to travel in style including a shower and a bedroom. The Islander décor doesn’t hurt either.

Back to the table with a $5 diet Pepsi (I left the girl the 50 cents because at least she sympathized with me about the wine). The rumors flew from one laptop to the next. “Did you hear? Did you hear? I’ve got…” It went down the line from B.D. to Ken to Mike to me and over to Ken R who was without his laptop. I had both Tom and Mike on the phone texting as we all were receiving sometimes-conflicting updates, sometimes the same. Brad Kurtzberg would occasional stand up and give me hand signals of what he heard, as if it was a trade on the stock market floor.

The room was loud; it was hard to hear anything over the din of the excitement. Nevertheless, as the night progressed, the excitement turned to disappointment. You can read my earlier entry for that. It is a little too painful for me to go over again.

Also painful would have been to take the locker room tour. Too many good memories stored up in there that would have brought me to tears, and the new season is too far off to make it any better. I opted to stay put and let others come to me. They certainly did.

One after another, my NYIC brethren came by to express their shock and disappointment at the evening’s events. It was so bad at one point, that the professional photographer with the press credentials turned to me and said, “Excuse me. I have to ask. Who are you that everyone keeps coming to yell at you?”

I shook my head. “I’m a blogger. Nothing but an Islander blogger. And they’re not yelling at me. They’re just yelling.” More than once, I heard “I want my deposit back.” Another member stopped by with a look of sheer disbelief and said, “This reeks of amateurs dabbling with professionals. Hideous!” I could offer them no solace, just an understanding nod. At that moment, I couldn’t spin this one with a washing machine.

I had a great time talking to Arena Hostess Dina who was toting a bag filled with merchandise that she BOUGHT (yes, bought) at the sale on the main floor. Oddly, Dina didn’t know she was working the draft party until Friday at 3 pm. Actually, no one knew she would be working the party until Friday at 3 pm. It seems they forgot to ask her. Luckily, as a true hockey fan, she didn’t have anything planned for the evening except actually watching the draft, so she was indeed available.

Both Jack Hillen and Robin Figren were gracious signing autographs and doing interviews the entire evening. Figren looks as young as Gervais did when he first came to Uniondale. That would be about 16 years old. He will grow up quickly here -- just as Bruno did.

The moment I had been waiting for all day was fast approaching as the party was winding down. Adam came by the table and told us that one more segment and John Buccigross would be available for us to interview. I was hoping I didn’t look as scared as I felt.

I fumbled for the sheet with the questions I had typed. Then we waited…. And waited. When we finally got the thumbs up, there was no place for us to really go. I suggested the RV! Hey! It was comfortable inside! Adam motioned toward the Zamboni tunnel. I thought “Just great, all the noise in this place and we’re going to get to do an interview in a garage. Very attractive.”

I was surprised to see how very, very thin Buccigross actually is. He has very sharp features and striking blue eyes. (Remember, I’ve never watched him on ESPN, so I was taking all this in for the first time.) We introduced ourselves one by one, and he took the time to retain the information addressing each one of us bloggers individually. We fired away with our questions and he answered thoughtfully and honestly while his young son kept close and silent. The bad thing was that not all the other things in the coliseum Zamboni entrance were. Between the music, the 8-foot dollies and the Zamboni itself backing its way past us, we could hardly hear him. Luckily, B.D. has it all on video for your enjoyment. You can catch it in it’s entirety on YouTube under BGallof.

As my questions had to do with his writing, John said that he would be working on a book about Barry Melrose, but now that Melrose has a new chapter to his life, he would have to hold off on it. He toyed with the idea of a compilation of his columns, but it hasn’t materialized. It takes him the full week to put his column together because he receives anywhere from 500 to 1000 emails a week between the mailbag and the funny photo quotes. It really is a great column that I have enjoyed for years now. I’m glad he has continued it even though ESPN dropped their NHL coverage.

He also had some very nice things to say about coming out to the Coliseum previously for games. He recounted the last time he was there when Jason Blake stole the puck from Sidney Crosby to score during that matinee. Of course, that made me smile from ear to ear. I don’t know if he did that just for me or not. I’ll dream a little and think he did because he remembers just how many times he had to deal with me promoting Blake’s talents during the past five years. On the other hand, maybe Blake was the most memorable player on the ESPN highlight reels for the Islanders. That could be the case as well.

The interview lasted for 10 minutes. That‘s six minutes longer than Ted‘s post game interviews. I hope he returns next season and we can have another go ‘round with him when the rest of the Blog Boxers attend.

The night was ended, and it was time to leave. But there was one quote from Mr. Buccigross that was heard by only Ken Rosenblatt and myself as we were leaving. While carrying balloons for his son as they headed out the main entrance doors of the barn, Beaker and his posse stopped him for a question. The second question someone yelled to him was “Hey! Is ESPN EVER going to have hockey back???”

“YES!” He yelled to them. Ken and I both stopped in our tracks.

“When??” They continued to question.

“The year after next!” He affirmed.

“JOHN! Can I QUOTE you on that?” I yelled out to him.

He looked at me from across the outdoor concourse “Yes, you can quote me!”

So … I am….But the real question is: Does the NHL actually NEED ESPN anymore?
We’ll see.
For Day 2 of the Draft, I was getting updates on my phone from Mike and Tom, our boys in Ottawa. But they really weren't doing too much for me. So tonight, while I finished up here, I stopped by someone who has a much better understanding of these things and read his take on it. Besides, gotta read it now. July 7th is fast approaching!

1 comment:

Travelchic59 said...

I hope the NHL doesn't kid itself into thinking it doesn't need ESPN.
BIG MISTAKE!!! The NHL does indeed need ESPN! Versus is a joke!