Sunday, July 7, 2013

Draft Day

Wow. What a day last Sunday was at Prudential Center for the 2013 NHL Draft.

I really didn't know what to expect, so I want to spend a few sentences (or paragraphs) on the mechanics of it all. These are things you might not see on TV watching at home.

Fan Fest
The Devils had a fan fest out on Championship Plaza with the theme being the Jersey Shore. Early summer, in New Jersey, that seemed fitting. It was sponsored by Stronger Than The Storm, which is an ad campaign here promoting the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore after last October's Hurricane/Nor'easter. There was a boardwalk set up against the adjacent buildings where the Devils had free boardwalk-type games (try to get the ball into the small hoop, try to knock down the milk bottles, etc.) complete with a sand pit on the other side of the boardwalk. There was also a sand sculpture around the hockey player statue in the plaza, music, food/drink, and street hockey set up on the street in front of Championship Plaza. They had promised a Ferris Wheel which was being constructed during fan fest and the B Street Band which I didn't actually see out there.

Seating inside the arena was announced as General Admission in the upper concourse, with fans being allowed inside at 1pm. Season Ticket Holders and their groups (who seemed to occupy most of the tickets) had access around the side of the building at 12:30. The first couple hundered people from that line were given free upgrades to reserved seating in the lower level. The draft stage and video screens were set up on the south end of the arena (the "open" end with the concessions that look back to the action; the end where the Devils defend twice). The concessions on that end were all closed up, but everything else was open. In the Upper Level, it was nothing special except for a table where season ticket holders could pick up commerative tickets from the event. Of course, seating on the end behind the stage was closed off. In the lower level concourse, that end was home to different hockey card vendors as well as team banners for each team in the draft (in order to block off the seating area and concessions). The rest of the concourse was business as usual except for the NHL's trophy collection on display in the corner next to one tower and the Stanley Cup in the corner next to the other tower (in that larger concourse with the big window behind the Fire Lounge).

Draft setup
I mentioned the stage being on one end. The other end had the different TV sets for the different TV coverage and interview area with reserved seating behind it. There was also media tables on the floor and media all around the handicap and ledge seating in the lower bowl. The middle of the arena floor was 30 tables for 30 teams participating in the draft with the potential draftees sitting in the club seats with their families. Each time a player was picked, you'd see him scream with excitement, hug his family, and run down to the floor to meet his new team and receive a jersey. The video display would show highlights of the kid if it was an early round pick and show logos of the team picking on all of the scoreboards and LED ribbons. There was a large video screen behind the stage showing the draft order for that round with some sponsor logos or team logos as they picked. They also had the 30 team's logos on a couple of banners above the stage where a spotlight would shine on the team that was "on the clock".

That is the basic mechanics of the draft. In later rounds, things moved a lot quicker, and more and more people had left. There weren't many of us who had stayed until the end. Gary Bettman was booed every time he went up on stage (which was only through the first round). The Rangers, Flyers, and Penguins were booed for every time their team was mentioned. And the Devils still received cheers all the way until the end.

See all of my pictures from the NHL Draft.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. Your comments will fall into a moderation queue.