The NHL Entry Draft isn't something that comes to town every year, especially not to us Southern Californian markets. So, despite an 8-hour work shift at the job that actually pays the bills, yours truly made the 1.5-hour drive (including traffic) up to the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Outside the front entrance to the Staples Center, local radio stations, local minor leagues, and the LA Kings media had set up stands to welcome hockey fans and curious passersby to the festivities.
LA Live, decked out in hockey decor
Once inside the arena, vendors dotted the outer concourse. All of the NHL trophies, including the Stanley Cup, were on display. As is always the case at Staples, lots of Kings-clad fans walked the grounds; but also in attendance, a fair share of Anaheim Ducks fans and a modest showing of fans representing the other 28 franchises.
Yours truly was excited just to see so much hockey in one place! (Yes, it's going to be a long summer)
Lord Stanley, we meet again!
The view from the 300 level
The main stage, where new draftees received hats, jerseys, and handshakes from their new franchises
TV coverage for everyone watching at home
I will admit, the only reason I found the Ducks table was by spotting the one and only Scott Niedermayer sitting at the upper right corner. Scotty would hand the Ducks' 12th and 29th picks their new Ducks jerseys.
Scotty watching the jumbotron
Surprised that he was still available by the time the 12th pick came around, the Ducks took 6'1" 190lb defenseman Cam Fowler. He's a left-shooting defenseman from the Windsor Spitfires, said to be a good puck-handler and puck-possessor who sees the ice well and controls the tempo of the game. He's compared to Tomas Kaberle and Jack Johnson.
Ducks take defenseman Cam Fowler for their 1st pick, 12th overall
For their 2nd pick in the first round, Ducks take Emerson Etem, 29th overall
A speedy right winger who shoots left, Emerson Etem is a local hockey boy from Long Beach, CA with lots of promise. He mirrors himself after Marian Gaborik and has been likened to Glenn Anderson and Joffrey Lupul.
The second day of the draft saw far fewer fans in attendance. Six more rounds landed the Ducks six more draft picks: right winger Devante Smith-Pelly, right winger Chris Wagner (Toronto's 122nd pick in exchange for Mike Brown), defenseman Tim Heed, center Andreas Dahlstrom, defenseman Kevin Lind, and right winger Brett Perlini.
Ex-Ducks GM Brian Burke, possibly discussing his trade involving Ducks forward Mike Brown
Overall, I think the Ducks did well with their draft picks. I will be very sorry to see Mike Brown go; he consistently played with heart and determination, always bringing 110% to the ice. Hopefully he'll see a lot more ice time with the Leafs.
The next items of business for GM Bob Murray should be securing Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan.