MONTREAL — I’m up bright and early here at the Holiday Inn Select Centre Ville Downtown (boy, that’s a mouthful), gearing up for a day of pre-draft coverage with the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at Bell Centre coming up tomorrow night and Saturday. I’ll be making my way to the media center in the next couple hours.
Here are some top-of-the-day notes to get started:
•The NHL is obviously relishing all this Winter Classic speculation. All you had to see what commissioner Gary Bettman’s impish smirk when asked about it in Las Vegas. But it’s obviously going to be Philadelphia and Boston in what might be one of two games New Year’s Day. Today the Philly Daily News confirmed what had already been reported and confirmed by The Trentonian and WEEI.com, which explained how ratings made NBC switch the matchup from Washington-Boston to Philadelphia Boston. Now as for a second game in Calgary, it looks like approval from the NHLPA is on the way, as E.J. Hradek of ESPN the Magazine reports today. I can’t wait until they just play an outdoor game every week. Something tells me it won’t take long for the masses to stop loving these things and for the ratings and interest to drop. But the league will keep cranking them out to line their pockets.
•Michael Russo of the Star Tribune has a story on what he’s hearing about Phil Kessel. A high first-round pick and another young player seems like a steep price to pay. But obviously Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli has to start somewhere if he’s going to move his leading goal-scorer. I think Minny would be a great landing spot for the speedster, who would instantly give the Wild some credibility in their pursuit to stop leading the league in yawning and inject some offensive excitement to their franchise.
•Today the Boston Globe took its turn featuring Chris Kreider of Phillips Andover, a sure-fire bet to go in tomorrow’s first round. Depending on who you talk to, he could be around when the Bruins pick at No. 25. Over at the Boston Herald, Ray Bourque’s son Ryan was the focal point.
•On a personal note, it’s great up here to watch TSN and Sportsnet and see actual pre-draft coverage. Totally gets you in the mood. Obviously, we don’t get that in the States. It’ll be a shame next year when the draft probably moves back to the lower 48 and we’ll have to watch NFL mini-camp stories all night.