Gushing about covering the Draft; Wild’s Summer Bash Thursday night; Draft Party at Tom Reid’s (not his house, his pub) Friday night; Russo Live Chat on Friday

Posted on June 24th, 2009 – 10:50 AM
By Michael Russo

Bonjour from one of my favorite places, Montreal, where I’m readying to cover my 12th NHL Draft (Buffalo, Boston, Calgary, Florida, Toronto, Nashville, Carolina, Ottawa, Vancouver, Columbus, Ottawa and Montreal).

Twelve.

By far my favorite league event to cover. That’s because every single person in hockey shows up at the Draft, so as a beat writer, there’s no better place to be. It’s the one pro Draft where you basically have to be there to cover it because all 30 teams’ Draft tables are on an arena floor.

And usually, the teams I cover swing big deals at the Draft. The Wild’s traded for Pavol Demitra and Todd White at the Draft, and set up the Manny Fernandez and Marek Zidlicky deals.

And the Panthers, to quote Jacques Lemaire, “Oh … My … Lord.” They were busy bees at every Draft, especially Bryan Murray, who acquired Trevor Kidd at the Boston Draft in ’99 and Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha at the 2000 Draft.

The Panthers, with Chuck Fletcher playing a big part, acquired Val Bure and Jason Wiemer for Rob Niedermayer at the ’01 Draft. Rick Dudley traded the first overall picks at consecutive drafts. The Panthers tried to take Alex Ovechkin at the ’03 Draft — one year before he was eligible. They also, after I was covering the Wild, traded Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek for Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan Allen at the Vancouver Draft and acquired Tomas Vokoun the next year.

Fletcher hopes to make some similar noise as the Wild’s GM, and we will see. He did learn from the one of the best, eh, blockbusterers in NHL history in Bryan Murray, and whatyaknow, BM the GM is about to execute yet another with some team with Dany Heatley.

As I’ve written, Fletcher doesn’t have a ton of assets he can deal, so there’s got to be the right fits and, as he said during last night’s interview, “the reality is there aren’t fits with most teams most of the time.”

Wanted to jump on and give you info on three events:

1) The Wild will have its Summer Bash on Thursday night at Rice Park in St. Paul from 6-9 p.m. Hockey-themed stuff, food and lots of autographs as the Wild broadcasters will be there, along with Nordy, Brad “Bomber” Bombardir and current players Derek Boogaard, Cal Clutterbuck, Colton Gillies, John Scott and James Sheppard — barring getting traded, of course :)

2) Tom Reid’s Hockey Pub in St. Paul will be hosting a Draft party Friday night starting at 5:30 p.m. The VERSUS telecast starts at 6 p.m. and Reid will have lots of information on all the draft-eligible players, as well as food and drink specials. And bring your laptops so you can still pay close attention to startribune.com/wild and startribune.com/russo, which will have live up to date information as it happens from the draft floor.

3) I’ll be hosting a live online chat on startribune.com Friday at 10 a.m., so be there or be square.

OK, I’m going to go stalk NHL execs, including ”Chucky,” outside the Board of Governors Meeting now.

Talk to you later, I am sure.

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