|Terry O'Reilly signs an autograph
Boston, MA --
During the summer months, hockey news can be scarce, but last week, hockey and the Boston Bruins came out of hibernation.
It was all Black & Gold chatter at DJ's at the Garden Friday night where a crowd of over 200 fanatics gathered to celebrate the next generation of NHL superstars and watch the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The sudden switch to talk about the ice was refreshing on the first night of summer as Bruins fans from across Massachusetts gathered with all-star B's goalie Tim Thomas
and Boston NHL alumni Terry O'Reilly, Rick Middleton and Gary Doak to watch the big screen in order to see who would be the lucky teen to join the ranks of the Black & Gold.
The atmosphere held an air of anticipation as all stood by waiting for the word and with the moniker "Titletown, USA" ringing in the ears of everyone in and around The Hub of Hockey, B's fans are looking forward to another exciting season -- and of course the day when the hometown hockey team adds their own championship to all the Boston buzz.
After sampling the hors d'oeuvres and with cold drinks in hand, it was time to get the draft under way.
Host Pete McKenzie, of Boston's WZLX, got the crowd riled up. A "Let's Go Bruins!" chant was ringing through the crowd before he even got a chance to introduce the Bruins players, new and old, that were in attendance.
To pass the time away, fans lined up to get Tim Thomas
' autograph -- the hot commodity of the night -- and with a chance to talk to Thomas, he shared his own draft story with the Bruins faithful.
"Back at the University of Vermont they had about five guys on my team that they thought might get drafted fill out forms, but they didn't even ask me," Thomas said. "And then I was the only guy that got drafted."
|The Ice Girls gave out prizes. |
"I was up in my room and my mom knocked on the door and said that there was someone on the phone for me. I went and asked who it was and he told me that he was from the Quebec Nordiques and that they just drafted me.
"I didn't believe him," he said, "I thought it was one of my friends pulling a prank on me!"
Thirteen years ago, when he was drafted, the event certainly wasn't as big of a deal, but Thomas enjoys watching it.
"I enjoy watching it because I am going to be playing against these guys," he said.
The Bruins alumni were enjoying it, too.
"I enjoy watching the kids get drafted and then following them the next few years to see how it pans out.," said O'Reilly. "I want to see if the top guys fulfill their expectations and if some of the lower guys rise up."
Doak agreed that it is interesting to see what happens.
"It is great (to be here)," he said. "I just hope (the Bruins) make a good selection: either a good puck-moving defenseman or a power forward -- though whether they get that through the draft or a trade, it doesn't matter.
"The Bruins have come a long way in the last couple years and now they are back in contention," he added, "and you can see by the number of people here tonight that Boston is still such a good hockey town -- it is good to see the Bruins doing well again."
When Middleton was asked how he felt being here and watching the draft, he of course, told it like it is.
"I have never really done anything like this and honestly haven't watched a draft in years," he said. "But this is exciting.
|Tim Thomas addresses the crowd as Terry O'Reilly, Rick Middleton and Gary Doak look on. |
"I am as big a fan as anybody else here. For a few years, it didn't seam like the Bruins were really going anywhere. Some picks worked out, like Phil Kessel, and others didn't.
"But you never know what you are going to get. Just because we have the 16th pick, doesn't mean you aren't going to get a good player. I went 14th overall, and I played in the NHL for 15 years. So you never know what is going to happen. It doesn't matter if you don't get number one. You never know in a draft, it's a crapshoot. It is just the beginning. But I admire these guys. I remember the day I got drafted and how proud my parents were," said Middleton.
When Doak was called up to the big leagues back in 1965, there wasn't even a draft, but O'Reilly filled us in on what it was like to be drafted in the first round.
"It was very exciting," O'Reilly said. "I was drafted 14th overall by Boston, but they had just won the Stanley Cup. So my biggest fear was that I was going to be living in the minors because they had a championship team. But the Bruins lost some players, and it made room for me on the team.
"It is really exciting (for the prospects) because everyone knows what the Central Scouting is," he added. "So they know where they probably will go.
"But it is not over to the fat lady sings. The draft will always surprise us…you really don't know until your name is called."
|Blades and friends. |
At 7:30 p.m. it was time.
The first few picks seemed interminable, and the crowd was getting restless waiting to here "Boston Bruins" come out of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's mouth. And, of course, every time there was a trade announcement, the crowd at DJ's listened up.
But none of the trades involved Boston and finally it was time for the sixteenth pick. The music was turned off, and the crowd was silenced.
Live from Ottawa, GM Peter Chiarelli thanked the fans back in Boston and those back at the draft party at DJ's. Everyone went nuts and appreciated "the shoutout" from the B's boss. Then the general manager revealed that the newest Bruin was 6'5" forward Joe Colborne from the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Cheers from the crowd were reverberating everywhere.
But with the Bruins 2008 first round draft pick in the history book, it was time for the night to come to end. But, it was only the beginning of a new year for the Black & Gold.
Next on the agenda is the Bruin's 2nd annual Development Camp in Wilmington where Colborne, and the rest of the Bruin's 2008 draftees will join other B's prospects for a week of bonding and practice to help bring the next generation closer to their dreams.