Gallagher: Advice to NHL draft watchers ... 'make sure the bullbleep filter is cranked to the max'
Vancouver’s new head coach John Tortorella certainly injected a little reason into this Sunday’s NHL entry draft in New Jersey when he noted at his local presser on Wednesday that the draft was a day for scouts and that he wouldn’t be attending.
"That is the scouts’ day, they do a lot of work and I think coaches get in the way," said Tortorella. "We don’t know who they (drafted players) are. I will not (attend) because it’s a very important day for those people who work very hard."
It’s almost a pity that more people don’t heed this advice, because when it comes to NHL draft day there are maybe 60-90 people in the whole building who have even the slightest idea who the players are that are being selected and they’re the scouts.
And if you ask any general manager in the league, there’s considerable skepticism about what even those scouts know with respect to how these potential draftees will do in an NHL environment.
And yes, the rest of those suits hanging around are pretty much in the way other than the GMs and their closest counsels using the event as a catalyst for possible trade moves, which is one of the chief reasons our Ben Kuzma will be there.
Other than simply presenting who was drafted by which team, much of what the media will do or say at the event will create a sea of baffling information which history will almost certainly prove is a mountain of horse manure.
Your agent has considerable experience at shoveling some of it himself, having attended many of these turnouts in the past. One shudders to think about what one might have written about Jason Herter, Libor Polasek or Dan Woodley on the days they were taken by the Canucks in the first round, but you can be sure it won’t be going in any old fashion scrap book other than perhaps one being kept by the mother of the named players.
Draft day coverage presents so much misinformation and bad speculation about players it’s actually sad. It’s done because people watch or read or listen and therefore the respective outlets feed their patrons’ appetite.
But the only coverage that really makes sense with respect to a draft are those programs or stories that look back in time, particularly at those drafts which had a tremendous impact on the league or the game or brought a pack of stars into the league. Only then can accuracy be part of the equation instead of wild predictions, most of which turn out to be complete drivel.
Many people speak of draft day as one of hope for teams and a wellspring of optimism for the years to come for fans of teams on the down and out. Well, that’s what is being sold by the NHL and every other pro sports league that holds such an event and in some cases that’s true, particularly if you get Roberto Luongo in a trade as the Canucks did back in ‘06 or you draft a known superstar quantity like Sidney Crosby. But in so many cases the optimism being sold is nothing but illusion when the player taken turns out of be Alexandre Daigle, Joe Murphy or Gord Kluzak.
How many years now have the Edmonton Oilers been at or near the very top of the order of selection? Each one of those new stars was supposed to lead the team out of the sewer and on the way to the promised land the way Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have done for the Blackhawks. But so far progress has been somewhat muted. At this point, you would have to think that they’ve drafted so high so often that even if Maggie the Monkey was running this team they’d be good eventually, but so far that hasn’t happened.
The Canucks have never had a first pick overall but they had some very good positions over the years and still managed to finish under .500 for 15 consecutive seasons. How much hope being sold to Vancouver fans over those years has turned out to be camel dung?
To quote the New York Islanders’ first round pick of ‘93: "The draft is what it is. Read, watch and listen to whatever you like but make sure the bullbleep filter is cranked to the max when consuming this piffle."
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