Draft day tips: keep it simple, don’t make a fashion statement



SASKATOON — As a regular feature, Canwest News Service sports reporter Cory Wolfe gets personal with a sports figure. Today, Atlanta Thrashers forward Colby Armstrong offers some tips for this year’s draft class. The Saskatoon native was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001.

Canwest: OK, game-day meals are easy — chicken and pasta. But what should a guy eat on draft day when butterflies abound?

Armstrong: That’s a tough question. I’m trying to think back to what I did.

My roommate was Jeff Woywitka because we had the same agent. Everyone’s families are there, so I think we just met in the lobby of the hotel and had the buffet. But just keep it light — unless you’re going to be a late-round selection. Then you should get after it because you don’t want to get hungry.

Canwest: Choosing a necktie presents some challenges. I mean, you don’t want to be wearing a colour that clashes with the jersey of your new team.

Armstrong: For sure. I think you stay with neutral colours. You see some guys with flashy outfits but my mom helped me pick my outfit. I didn’t do anything with it. And I only had one suit at the time because I was slaving away in the slave-labour league of the (Western Hockey League). I had a silvery-grey shirt with a red tie and a black suit. But you don’t want to go overboard. I remember this guy went ahead of me — a Russian named Igor Knyazev. Carolina drafted him. He wore a rental tuxedo with a cummerbund. Are you kidding me?

Canwest: So what you’re saying is, draft day is no time to be a fashion maverick.

Armstrong: Yeah, like, you’re not Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey’s character in Dumb and Dumber). Tone it down.

Canwest: Hair products — how much is too much?

Armstrong: Some guys with the shorter hair spike it up — the standard thing.

I had longer curls, so back in the day you don’t know any better and you’ve got the Dippity Do. You just go with the hockey style — load it up and mess it up a bit. We’re hockey players here. Keep it simple. Be yourself.

Canwest: After a guy hears his name called, who gets the first hug?

Armstrong: Well, they kind of position your family in order so that you can go down the line. I think it was me, my mom, then my dad, then my brother.

So you give the parents the hugs first. Then as you’re walking down the stairs, if you see a couple of buddies you can whoop it up with them and work your way to the floor. Then, for me, it was easy . . . my jacket fell off because I’ve got no shoulders. It slipped right off. Then going up to the stage, you have to be careful that you don’t trip on the stairs.

Canwest: When presented with the team’s ball cap on stage, should a guy curve the peak?

Armstrong: I kind of admire the guys who curve the peak because you can see the poise in them. They’re not worried that everyone’s watching them. They take their time. That’s a pretty good touch. I remember when I got my hat. I have a small bean, eh, so I was fidgeting with the thing on the back. Then finally I just said, “Screw it.” I didn’t actually put the hat on. I couldn’t tighten it up.

Canwest: Hands just shaking, eh?

Armstrong: Yeah, so you want to take your time. If you can get it on, give it a little bend. The kids today will probably go straight brim. They’ll probably bend it the other way to straighten it. But you definitely don’t want to tilt it to the side. I mean, come on.

Canwest: As you said, the draft is no place to be making fashion statement.

Armstrong: Yeah. When you go up there, (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman says, “Welcome to the NHL.” Just shake his hand. You’re not at the MTV Awards.

Canwest: Draftees will be inundated with interviews. Should they prepare some clever quotes or just wing it?

Armstrong: Just wing it. I had no clue what would happen down underneath (the stands). You just get whisked away and there’s tons of action around you. You’re looking around and I remember Wayne Gretzky was down there. You see all of these guys that you grew up watching and idolizing. You go room to room, taking pictures and doing interviews. It’s kind of tough to prepare for, so just have some fun and do your best.

Canwest: And finally, If you cross paths with a legend such as Gretzky or Lemieux, how do you introduce yourself without looking like a dork?

Armstrong: Just go up, say hi and introduce yourself. But I think you want to leave it at that. You don’t want to go over the top. If you can get a picture, that’s pretty cool. Most of the guys in hockey are really good guys. And you don’t get to meet guys like that too often, so you should try to take advantage of it for sure.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix


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