-- One of the great days on the hockey calendar dawned this morning in one of the great cities on the hockey landscape, providing a worthy setting for the Wild's 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The storylines are many, of course. Adding to the typical weight of any Draft -- What will my team do with its picks? How many trades will be made? Who is available? Which teams will be the most active? Who will go first? -- this year offers the added interest from across the State of Hockey that relates to Chuck Fletcher running his first Draft as General Manager of the Wild.
In the city that hosted the Draft for more than 20 years, and where Fletcher was born (his family moved when he was 2-years-old), where the local chatter offers a bilingual near-critical mass of Draft talk, Fletcher is at the foot of an event that sets up as the most public practical reality of his self-described dream job. He has hired a coach. He has talked to his players. He has contacted GMs. Now he will have the opportunity to begin shaping the team in the image of the style that will become Wild hockey.
This has been my dream -- a chance to run the Draft table and to be the person making the decisions. - Chuck Fletcher
The Draft begins tonight at 6 p.m. CDT, but the event has been on the minds of every hockey fan for weeks, if not longer. Fletcher, to be sure, is thrilled the day is finally here.
"Honestly, it's a great time," he said during a Wild TV exclusive
Thursday evening. "It's really the central focus of the year for the entire league."
The Draft presents a dizzying number of details and distractions for a manager -- meeting with prospective picks, being pulled away from a walk to the coffee shop by three members of the media, peeking at a frequently rattling BlackBerry, talking to pro scouts about free agents, talking to amateur scouts about their lists, trying to address phone calls as quickly as they come in because, "that's where, potentially, some action could happen" -- and it seems to be energizing for the hockey fan in Fletcher.
"It's exciting," he said in the Wild TV interview, which took place before the club's Draft eve dinner, an annual tribute to the scouting staff that individually watches hundreds of games each season, as well as a quick breather in the midst of a wild week.
In terms of how Fletcher, Assistant GM Tommy Thompson (Wild TV caught up with him for this exclusive
Wednesday) and the Wild will navigate through the Draft, Fletcher has a number of options with the club's seven picks between Friday (No. 12) and Saturday (Nos. 99, 103, 116, 133, 163, 193).
"There's still some different direction things can go," he says. "In terms of our list, we have a very good idea of what we want to do, and what we'll do if certain things happen, and [if] certain things don't."Return to Wild.com's NHL Entry Draft coverage, brought to you by King's Cove Marina.