By: Don White

1) Price of Admission (FREE):

Where else can you see the next Gretzky, Roy, Yzerman, Crosby, and Ovechkin, Kane get drafted for FREE. The NHL is the only major sports body that lets fans of the game attend the draft. So spend a minute, an hour, a day and the worst you can say is “That is the worst free event I attended.”

2) Easy access to future stars for autographs (even) past superstars, HOF’ers GM’s, owner’s, etc.

You will never find an easier place to get autographs than the NHL DRAFT. As the players are young and have not had the arduous task of signing for 10 to 20 years like many superstars who can be hit or miss when asked for their autographs.

I can give you numerous examples of how the players at the draft go beyond the call of duty.

A) Rotislav Olesz- he spent an hour or more fulfilling every autograph request of the throng that surrounded him. He did it happily. Heck, he even gave his NHL DRAFT cap to a fan who traded him his brand new Panther cap. Heck, just imagine the collectible that will be down the road.

B) We all know how big Alexander Ovechkin is now but when I went up to him to get a graph, the pen was pleasantly taken from my hand and the item signed. I didn’t even get to utter a word or need to ask, as he knew what we were coming for and he was glad to LAY DOWN THAT GRAPH.

C) Walking down the concourse on a Sunday would be boring to most. But to a few die hards and veterans of the event you need to understand there are more than just the kids getting drafted. It the GM’s, Owner’s, etc. that are graph worthy as well. I mean it is not every day you meet Wayne Gretzky strolling through a concourse with a CVS bag in tow. But that is what happened to Ian Price and he has a memento to last for a life time (a beautiful 8 x 10 photo signed by the GREAT ONE himself). Me I ended up with a snapshot at I was not prepared for a Sunday (live and learn).

Here is a list of the players we obtained while autograph hunting in Raleigh. The wife took the goalie mask, and I took the goalie stick.

Alexander Ovechkin- Capitals
Radislav Smid- Anaheim
Roman Voloshenko- Islanders
Blake Wheeler- Coyotes
Dane Byers- Rangers
Rob Schremp- Oilers
Borin Valabik- Thrashers
Lauri Korpikoski- Rangers
Jeff Schultz- Capitals
Lukas Kaspar- Sharks
Rotislav Olesz- Panthers
Lauri Tukonen- Kings
Travis Zajac- Devils
Adam Bert- Blackhawks
Andrej Meszaros- Senators
Cam Ward- Hurricanes
Andrew Ladd- Hurricanes
Magnus Akerlund- Hurricanes
David Laliberte- Flyers
Jason Church- Sharks

Jeff Daniels and McCarthy (Coaches of Cane’s) as they signed with Ward

So out of the top 10 we landed six. Not bad when you consider the crop.

3) Where else can you ask questions of Beckett and UD in person?

If you are a hockey card collector at all, there are always questions out there for these two entities that maintain a major hobby presence.UD has the only NHL license so they have all these products from Artifacts to The Cup which leaves us with tons of questions. So here is your chance not to be dealt with on the phone, through e-mail correspondence, or a large event like the Nationals where the line can get humongous. So drop by their booth and ask all the questions you have. Make a list as they will have more than a few people to answer any question you can throw at them.

If you don’t get an answer then just ask for a business card as most of them have them. That way you just made a sweet contact for future questions down the road. Nothing like sending that e-mail and building a repertoire with that person for future questions and answers. As we all know when the person knows you on the other end, the discussion will go that much smoother.

Beckett has a table at the Draft as well and is staffed by a few members of the Beckett Hockey Magazine. I mean where else can you see Editor in Chief of Beckett Hockey Magazine Al Muir sell BCCG graded Beckett cards to the public. At the Draft in Carolina they had a slew of these cards that they sold for a few dollars each.

Also, like UD they will answer any questions you can come up with. How they do their pricing, listings of what sets and not, hot singles, etc. So if you just take the time to jot down your questions by the time you leave you will have answers. Might not be what you want to hear, but Al and the Beckett staff will do their best to answer your questions.

This is kind of like having Beckett and UD at your disposal and of course the cost is FREE!! So it is another one of the many reasons to stop by at the NHL 2007 Draft in Columbus.

4) Card show with free redemptions for busting boxes by UD.

There is always a small card show at the NHL Draft and they do have some goodies especially of the latest players from the Host City. The dealers usually consist of some of the bigger dealers from across the nation that UD has a network with. Then on a local level their is always a few local dealers that are also part of the UD dealer network.

At the card show, UD usually does some type of redemption with buying a box of cards or sometimes even just a pack. It changes from year to year so you never know. One year Pacific gave away the Calder Contenders with the three net cards from the All-Star Game. The set booked about $150 in total so overall for any box you bought you received a nice freebie (throw in) for buying a box of cards.

Here a video of a few of the dealers from Columbus last year as they had a nice set up with them spread through out the concourse. Of course UD, Sportsology, CSM, and Becket where set up in the main area of the concourse.

YouTube

 5) Special Events by the host team:

Team Signings:

Nashville had a great one as the picture I had signed by their first five 1st rounders they had drafted since the team’s inception. Made for a nice item to take home from the draft. Of course the season ticket holders got their in a private line but that is the benefit of being a season ticket holder. The only gripe I had about the signing of that line was that the Predators had no crowd control to form the line. So in essence my friend and I along with my wife waited two hours to get their autos. There was no line so people were about 20 to 30 wide in the concourse so when they did form the line we ended getting moved back a few hundred people. Also, after three hours I believe the guys stopped autographing which made for some mad fans. I felt for those people, and the Nashville organization should have done something better on that front.

Here is a example of the Nashville team signing picture that we obtained:

Carolina had a different take as they had different people signing throughout the arena. Unlike Nashville with all the people in one place for autos, you had to choose your poison. So did you want Eric Staal, Andrew Ladd, Cam Ward, etc. So it was preferential, and if you chose one you usually could not make it to the other. So once you made your decision, you would have to live for it which is cool. Of course the lines were well controlled and the lines moved very quickly when the autograph session started.

Columbus had a different approach as they had Rick Nash sign outside and then had some a few other players from the team sign later in the arena. I didn’t stand in line except for the Nash as I was second in that line on a nice hot sunny afternoon in downtown Columbus. Here is another video on that front as it just shows what you can expect:

YouTube

Game-Used Sales:
Both Nashville and Carolina auctioned off game-used equipment from blockers, pads, sticks, skates, and everything else imaginable. Both events were well controlled as they would let you in the rope off room at about 10 per time. Once one person left they would allow one other person to enter so there was a constant number of people inside. 

The main problem with this is if your looking for something particular you might not find it. As the people set out a certain number of sticks, skates, helmets, etc. When a few get sold, they walk into a room off to the side and bring in some more. So if you are looking for a certain player or certain piece of equipment it might not be there. As it could be in that room and they don’t like to be asked for special requests as I saw a few people try. That jams up the whole operation and again like a pack of cards it is kind of like getting lucky as you have no control of what will be available. Thing is, the prices rock, and it is official issue so what can you say as how often do you get a chance except at the team store where prices are a little higher.

6) Stanley Cup and other trophies and other things to do!

Where else can you see the Lord Stanley and the other host of trophies without traveling to the Hall of Fame Museum. So in essence, you can have you picture taken with the Stanley Cup and of course the line is quite LONG. So be prepared for a wait unless you line up early. The rest of the trophies are usually on site for the first day and packed up by the second day. So, make sure you check them out if you want to see them at all during the first day. Not sure if that is always the case, but it has been my experience for the two Drafts I have attended.

Usually there is Russ Cohen and his hockey guys set up taping for their website (radio) with various players, UD, etc. I saw them both years I attended, and they usually put a lot of the interviews with players, parents, fans, and anyone who walks near their booth. They love what they do and enjoy getting the word out about what the NHL Draft and what is going on.

All in all, the NHL Draft is a great experience as you will see joyous players who will eagerly sign items unlike when the majority signing habits turn for the worse. Where else will you see a joyous family ask you to take a picture with their son as you just happened to ask for a autograph. Hasn’t happened to me but my wife had to take a picture with some NHL draftee that she did not even know. I can only assume that picture is sitting in some draftee’s photo album, and they are going to do this one day “WHO IS THAT WOMAN.”

P.S. If you have any questions just ask, and if I don’t know I will try to find out a answer for you. So hope to see some reports on how the it goes at Scotiabank Place in the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on June 20–21, 2008 for the upcoming draft!!

To contact Don: Click Here