Thursday, June 25, 2009

Which species has the shortest memory of any primate?

The media!

OK, it's a trick question. The media aren't primates.

But here's the point. We have been perusing the hockey blogs, columns, news reports, and such over the past few days, and there is, well..."buzz."

"What sort of buzz," you ask? Well, there is the matter of whether the Islanders will really take John Tavares with the first pick, or if Garth Snow will listen to his inner muse and take Matt Duchene.

Then there is the usual chatter about how there will be this, that, or the other "BLOCKBUSTER" trade made at this draft (it's a hardy perennial).

Or the one where so-and-so is desperately working the lines to move up two... five... ten spots up the draft order and will offer up his entire bucket of selections through the 2014 draft if only he can have the number one overall pick.

We just have one question for the folks who perpetrate and perpetuate these sorts of story lines...


Every year we go through this, and every year the media forgets what they should have learned the previous year -- general managers of major professional team sports franchises are among the most risk-averse creatures on the planet. Big moves mean big risks, and how often are they made? You remember them because they are so rare and stand out so starkly against a backdrop of dull gray sameness.

Garth Snow is going to be called up to the podium to recite the name he's been practicing in front of his bedroom mirror for a month -- "John Tavares." Islander fans will cheer, Snow will sigh the sigh of relief that he didn't screw up (until and unless, of course, Tavares turns out to be a dog...then Islander fans will rise as one and shout, "ya shoulda took Duchene, we knew it all along!").

The only "blockbuster" in evidence this weekend will be the store selling videos (are they still around?). They might even have copies of the Penguins' march to the Stanley Cup.

And no one is leaping from 21st to 1st by moving a fist full of picks, prospects, and other prizes to pick Tavares (or Duchene, or that Hedman kid). We're not going to see the NHL equivalent of Mike Ditka trading his whole draft -- plus picks in the following draft -- for Ricky Williams (now there's a cautionary tale).

It'll be a nice, quiet draft, just like it is most every year...

...except for that buzzing.

It's all in the name...

Drafts in any sport have many entertainments. There is the suspense in seeing who will be drafted, which young prospect your favorite team will pick, the wheeling, the dealing, the squealing when the picks are made. But there are often a number of young men at these events whose names just conjure a whole other set of mental images. And at the NHL draft, which is as global an event as such things get, there are some names that fairly leap off the page. For instance...

Brayden McNabb, D (Kootenay/WHL) . A perfect fit for Philly. They’d have another McNabb to boo. If the Phillies could find a “McNabb,” they could have 365 days of McN-abbuse to heap upon their sports teams. Philly heaven.

Linden Vey, RW (Medicine Hat/WHL). Wonder how early in life he picked up the nickname, “Oy?”

Matthew Tipoff, RW (Bellville/OHL). Wrong sport, son. Shouldn’t you be in the gym for the opening, well...tip off?

Andrej Nestrasil, RW/C (Victoriaville, QMJHL). Sounds like a nasal decongestant. When tree pollen has you stuffed up…”Nestrasil.”

Max Tardy, C (Duluth East (HS-MN). Better send a driver for him so he’s on time.

Evan Bloodoff, LW (Kelowna/WHL). Sounds vaguely like a spot-remover, doesn’t it?

Ondrej Havlicek, C (Czech-JR). Meet Matthew Tipoff.

Joonas Hurri, D (Pelicans Jr./Finland-JR). Now, if he could be paired with Uppan Slowdown.

Jakub Ciger, C. (Martin Jr./Slovak-JR). So, he shoots just wide, and the play-by-play guy goes, “close, but no…”

We mean no disrespect to these young men, they just happen to have names we'd like to hear called this weekend. For these young men (and we kid because we love) and all those who are a part of this weekend’s festivities, may it be the times of their lives.