Pre-Draft Notes: Friday, June 22nd

By Mark Fischel
Today’s events started with the obligitary “Meet the Prospects” event in Downtown Ft Lauderdale. At Riverfront, a local tourist shopping and dining complex, a small but eager crowd waited in the on again, off again rain for their opportunity to see the players they probably have only read about in the papers.
As Denis Potvin warmed the crowd up with stories of past drafts, a water-taxi quietly sailed up the adjecant New River bearing Stanley, the Panther mascot, and 12 of the top prospects.
Jason Spezza, Mikko Koivu, R.J. Umberger, Dan Hamhuis, Mike Komisarek, Lukas Krajicek, Pascal LeClaire, Dan Blackburn, Stanislav Chistov, Alexander Svitov, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Stephen Weiss no doubt enjoyed the solitude of the open water before being thrown into the media luncheon.
After being introduced to the crowd and signing some autographs, the players all headed into a local che-che bistro to meet the media. LeClaire and Blackburn met with some large crowds, while Spezza and Kovalchuk undoubtably had their share. Watching Spezza work the room was a pleasure, and it quickly reminded me that this kid has been doing this thing for the last 3 years. Whatever team selects him will definitely have a media and fanfriendly marquee-type player.
Chistov and Svitov seemed to be slightly uncomfortable among the media crush, and were basically left alone almost the whole time by the heavily slanted North American media. Svitov doesn’t speak English, and Chistov might not be so confident with his English. It made for a difficult interview.
One of the more amusing sightings, was Rick DiPietro working with NHL Cool Shots. He was conducting interviews/infomercials with each prospect regarding a new line of Pacific trading cards, with each pack featuring a Game worn card and a rookie card. I only mention the company name because the rep gave me some free packs, which yielded a Forsberg, Hrdina, and Svehla jersey cards…..sweet! ( I am not above free plugs for free stuff ) Keep an eye out for an upcoming episode of Cool Shots with DiPietro and the prospects opening up packs of cards and engaging in some trash-talking.
The NHL had no other events scheduled the rest of the day for the prospects, so it is assumed they have off to sightsee, discuss their futures with the agents, meet with teams, or just try to get some rest before the big day on Saturday. There really was no news or big events happening, so I hope you at least enjoyed this glimpse into media day.

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