As most of you know, FantasyRealm(who shall furthermore be referred to as FR) and I went to the draft together. We wanted to experience the draft live and meet a bunch of the people that we only knew through the interwebs. I would have liked to stay through Saturday as well, but I'm experiencing some financial issues ATM. I digress, let's start with the stories!
I am going to try and be as brief as possible(I tend to get very long-winded, it is a weakness of mine.)
Staying with some things that really stood out.
Wow, you can get some very serious hate-stares when walking around downtown Montreal wearing a Leafs Jersey/ball cap. I have a really hard time not laughing in their face, and I actually failed to hold my laughter down a few times.
On the way to the Bell Center/Centre Bell(sorry, it gets to you even after one day) FR and I came across a shirtless, one-armed bum with a Jesus Beard lying on the sidewalk next to a light pole. Lefty was holding a ball cap in his hand and shaking some change around in it. When we ignored him and walked by, we heard a 'Leaf's Suck' come from him!
After a moment of stunned silence, FR and I broke out into hearty laughter that we couldn't get to subside. This destitute dude, lying(not sitting) on the sidewalk begging for change comes out with a 'Leaf's Suck'. The ludicricy of it kept us chuckling all the way to our seats.
Speaking of going to our seats, the rest of the PPPers had saved us some seats in the 200 section, but by the time FR got his free ticket from the Tweetup, it was after 5PM. Some old grumpy usher would not let us go to the 200 section and forced us up to the 300 section. This is the first in a series of events that would lead to the JT encounter. So, FR and I sat up there and watched the first 17 picks of the draft. The crowd was just ridiculous. Between cheering for French Canadian prospects and booing draft picks from certain teams - Sometimes BOTH on the same pick - I was getting sick of hearing it.
I did get a laugh from Burke's reaction to the boos, and even a bigger laugh when FR leaned over to me and said:
'I was saying Boo-urke'
After thoroughly enjoying my 2 hot dogs(regular size, not jumbo), small bag of Doritos and 12 ounce beer ($20.50 after taxes) I needed to use the facilities. I had already decided that I would go right after St. Louis' pick and right before Montreal made their selection. After experiencing the ridiculousness that is Habs fandom, I felt this would be the opportune moment to return something to the Montreal community.
As expected, there wasn't a soul in the hallway on my way to use the facilities. After washing my hands, I started to make my way back to my seat - about a 3 mile hike. As I approached my section, I noticed a small group of people making their way up from the 200's and heading to who-knows-where.
I had to do a double take, because who do I see? A few women, some guys in suits, and a tall young man wearing an Islanders 09 Jersey with the name 'Tavares' on the back. I literally shook my head and looked again. There he was the first overall pick in the draft, the two time gold medal winner at the World Juniors, the guy who once just about ran Jared off the road - John Tavares.
Of course, being totally unprepared for this, I just walked up to him, shook his hand and said 'Congratulations.' He seemed really sincere when he said 'Thank you. Thank you very much.' Then just as quickly, he moved on to his destination.
After describing this event to the other PPPers(because after Montreal picked, about 25% of the crowd left and FR and I were able to find them) Chemmy piped up 'Why didn't you push him down the stairs? He doesn't play for us!'
First, I doubt I could have pushed him anywhere, but right after Chemmy said that to me my mind went back to that moment when we shook hands. He looked at my Leaf Jersey and there was a hint of sadness in his eyes. In that split second, I think he was really wishing that he was wearing my Leaf jersey.
It is my belief that the soul-crushing realization that he was property of the New York Islanders fully impacted him at that moment. That was more damage done than falling down a thousand flights of stairs.
And, just so you know, his handshake was strong and smooth, much like his puck handling abilities.
PS I told every Habs fan that looked at me with those burning eyes of hatred that I had met and shook hands with John Tavares while they were cheering about picking Louis Leblanc. Burkie did not have a great draft, but I had a great time.