A Little Summer, Culture and Hockey

We continue to receive response from our group that made the trek to Philadelphia to attend the NHL Entry Draft a few weeks ago. It was truly a memorable event. We have published some of the reaction from some of our 50 content winners who came along with us. This time, it’s a piece from one of the newest members of our All Habs family.  Malin’s first article for All Habs Hockey Magazine was titled “Up Close With Naslund, Popovic, De la Rose: The Swedish Connection.”  This time, she provides a first-time attendee’s perspective on the NHL Entry Draft.

NHL 2014 Entry Draft: Tongue Twisters and a reincarnated Julius Caesar

451341302 A Little Summer, Culture and Hockey

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

by Malin Dunfors, Digital Journalist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

MONTREAL, QC — Here I was, on a blistering hot Saturday afternoon, secretly wishing I had another sweater to put on. Or even an extra pair of socks would have been great.

Since mid-week, a summer heat wave had wrapped Philadelphia in a sticky blanket and pushed temperatures into their high 30’s.

Still, inside the Wells Fargo Center, host of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, someone must have felt that winter like conditions were more appropriate and cranked up the air conditioning like it was going out of fashion.

Speaking of fashionable, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal had only been five years in business when it hosted the very first draft on June 5, 1963. Back then, the “NHL Amateur Draft,” only allowed amateur players under the age of 20 to be drafted.

The hotel ended up hosting the draft a total of ten times from 1963 to 1979. In between drafts, John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded their famous “Give Peace a Chance,” in bed in room 1742.

The draft changed its name to the “NHL Entry Draft” in 1979, when players who had previously played professionally were deemed eligible. It was a mechanism that allowed the NHL to distribute players from the defunct World Hockey Association.

In 1980, hockey fans could thank their lucky star as the draft opened its doors to the general public.

Fast-forward to the 2014 edition. The Wells Fargo Center, this massive 20,000-seat arena, bursting at its seams from the teams, the prospects, international and national media – and a sea of fans, mostly dressed in orange and black.

Now, there’s no denying that the Philadelphia Flyers have some passionate fans, and that they like to show their love and appreciation. And sometimes, when there is no love to go around, they still like to share.

Basically, during the two days of the draft, any East Conference NHL team got a well-timed, unison “boo.” Western Conference teams got away with a more sudden “boo.”

Unless you’re part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, or easily offended, it all makes for good fun.

The NHL entry draft is an international affair, no doubt. There are players representing Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic and Sweden.

This means that part of the draft is devoted to – linguistics, i.e. the announcement of foreign names. In general, on this particular occasion, best practice seemed to come down to three techniques:

1) To pronounce the name as quickly as possible and hope for the best.

2) The pronounce the name as slowly as possibly and hope for the best.

3) To infuse the pronunciation with a couple of dramatic pauses and hope for the best, somewhere in between the hmm… and the eh…

Swedish turned out to be particularly cumbersome. Trust me, as a native Swede, I grew up with the language and am well aware that it requires certain… practice, let alone since our alphabet includes three additional letters – å,ä and ö.

On the other hand, many team representatives whisked through their draft picks with the most beautiful pronunciations I’ve heard on this side of the Atlantic, and my hat (or toque) goes off to them.

I will still leave it to a Philadelphia gentleman, who sat in the row in front of me for the entire draft, to summarize the event.

“We came, we saw and we booed,” he remarked dryly.

I don’t know if the late Julius Caesar had any idea when he uttered the famous, “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”), that one day he would be paraphrased by a Philadelphia Flyers fan.

Just goes to show that anything can happen during the NHL Entry Draft.

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