Monday, June 26, 2006

Entry draft musings (part 2)

Working weekends is something you learn to accept if you want to cover sports for a living. But at The Globe and Mail, where we don't have a Sunday paper and I've been working mainly on the desk, it's been a rare occasion I've been in the newsroom on the Saturday.

This past weekend was one of those. And I was busy.

With two of the paper's senior fellows in Vancouver (Eric Duhatschek and Grant Kerr), it was my job as the small fry to hammer out the basic facts as fast as possible — freeing up those two to mingle on the draft floor. I'd talked to Eric briefly before the draft, and he'd called the draft's first round "the fastest three hours of your life."

He wasn't kidding.

Using a web interface that I hadn't had a chance to use before, I did my best to keep pace with what ended up being a fairly by-the-numbers draft — aside from two big deals that saw Alex Tanguay and Pavol Demitra find new homes. The top pick was who the pundits had said it would be (Erik Johnson), and the following four picks all stayed true to form as well.

(Unfortunately, as someone noted on this site afterwards, I missed the No. 6 overall pick — Columbus' selection of Derick Brassard — in my initial confusion. It was a good pick, especially given Brassard's unreal production in the QMJHL this year. This was a draft that was extremely strong through the first five picks; any other year, a player like Brassard would have been about a No. 3-ranked prospect.)

I ended up rattling off about 30-odd posts in the first round's three hours, but mostly I was marvelling at the pace Duhatschek kept up on his own blog. Given the miniscule time span, it's unreal just how many players and GMs he was able to talk to, nevermind the fact he was filing mini-columns on a low-speed connection every 15-20 minutes.

Of course, this is entry draft No. 20+ for him — old hat for The Hat, if you will. It was the first time that I've covered the draft in any capacity, other than as a from-the-couch pundit, and I was just sitting in a sterile newsroom, nowhere near the actual activity. Maybe next time (in Columbus on June 23).

Heh, and I know I probably shouldn't say this given he's a colleague, but I vividly remember reading Duhatschek in The Hockey News as a little kid back in Kamloops (*Learn to read with THN!*). In fact, he's actually been an NHL beat writer longer than I've been alive — which makes all of this rather heady to think about. (And if Eric happens to read this at some point, my apologies for the embarrassment. If it's any consolation, making you feel old makes me feel young.)

He's one of the best there is in Canadian sportswriting, and I can only hope to eventually have a career half that impressive.

Anyways, enough navel gazing. As I said yesterday, I hope those that tuned in enjoyed the coverage, and it's my hope we'll be able to put something like this together again in the future.

In the meantime, stay tuned to Duhatschek's blog. My guess is it'll be a busy place — offseason, or not.


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