Here is a diary of whatever I can remember from my NHL Draft Weekend experience.
We left Montreal on Thursday before rush hour started, took the right bridge off the island, didn’t wait too long at the US border, made very efficient pit stops, and were beginning to feel good about time, until the New Jersey turnpike ate us. Right at the very end, before the last exit to Philadelphia. I don’t know why the Jersey turnpike hates me but I have literally never been on it without getting emphatically stuck in traffic. So we got to the bar late and missed a lot of people we wanted to see, although we were very happy to see the people that were still there. Hi, very drunk people that were still there! You will not believe how drunk you were.
- We also briefly met Jamie McLennan, who is, like, the greatest human.
- On Friday morning, the lovely Bo took me to a panel discussion that we thought was going to be between Gary Bettman, Paul Holmgren, and Flyers COO Shawn Tilger. We got there, and, hey, we found ourselves sitting LIKE TEN FEET FROM CLAUDE GIROUX. CLAUDE GIROUX. MY CLAUDE GIROUX. It was awesome, except the part where I told the Flyers COO I am not a Flyers fan and Bo had to explain my Flyers feelings. What a Laura thing to do. Anyway, Bo is the sweetest and I’m very grateful for the experience. Also Gary Bettman is way funnier than you’d think.
- I randomly ran into the beautiful Caity Kauffman and Chelsea Clyde on the street. We recognized each other and screamed and hugged like they do on TV as people looked on like we were insane.
- Then I met up with Becca and Amanda and we went to get cheesesteaks. We each got a cheesesteak. None of us could finish a cheesesteak. Seriously they should put a warning on there. “You will not be able to eat more than half of this or your stomach will explode. Share with your friends.”
— Mike McLaren (@MikeMcLaren) June 27, 2014
Also there was an apple dumpling situation at Reading Terminal Market. The situation was you should try one.
- We went on a tour of the city, and holy crap is it gorgeous. The parts they show you, at least. I know Philly has some really sketchy bad areas but there’s so much history and old things and nerdy things and that was pretty much all we saw. I think my favourite part was the Art Museum Steps.
- Then we went to the first round of the draft. Read Down Goes Brown’s story from the draft, because he can write it better than any of the rest of us can. I really like the SUCKS thing, because Flyers fans are assholes who acknowledge that they’re assholes and I kind of love that it’s their thing. The only thing I can add that McIndoe didn’t mention is that one order of Crabfries is the size of a bucket.
- (Berkshire was covering the draft for Habs Eyes On The Prize, and EOTP draft coverage can be found here if you’re interested in actual hockey things.)
- Right as we were leaving Wells Fargo that night, they had fireworks on at the ballpark. One thing about Philly sports venues is that the ballpark, hockey arena, and football stadium are all in one place separated by parking lots and like some fan hangout thingy. When you’re coming from New Jersey and you take the exit towards them at night, it’s the prettiest sight for anyone with sports feelings. Sports feelings.
- We went to a bar called Bar. There were a lot of people there I wanted to say hi to, and I did, too briefly (HI COLLIN), but I missed so, so many people and I’m really sorry about that. Anyway, the bar called Bar had no air conditioning and so we went outside to get some air, and then we decided to scrounge for food, and then we found some degenerate hockey writers and had some drinks with them.
- For the record, I have a lot of intellectual crushes on lots of hockey-writing people and every single one of them that I have ever met (in Philadelphia and elsewhere) has been extremely nice in person.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things (HI STEVE DANGLE).
The next morning we went to the second round of the draft, after which we went to a baseball game and ate fries out of a hat. Citizens Bank Park is an extremely nice ballpark. It’s not historic and it doesn’t have anything gimmicky like a stingray tank or whatever (seriously, Tampa?) but it is very much geared towards an awesome baseball game experience. Great visibility, clean washrooms, decent food, and a phenomenal view of the city. The Phillies are absolute shit.
- We went out for dinner and then karaoke, but I got claustrophobic in that tiny room and ran away and found more degenerate hockey writers. Again, intellectual crushes who turned out to be lovely people. We all ended up at that bar at the end of the night and at least two people tried to lift me.
- Anyway, I got drunk. Not too drunk, but just drunk enough to say dumb things. For example I met Seth Rorabaugh, a Penguins writer, and said something like “I don’t like Penguins people but I follow you and I like your feed.” What a Laura thing to do. I hope he was too drunk to remember that.
- Sunday morning, Josh and I met up with the beautiful Amy briefly, then picked up Andrew and started to head home. Somewhere in New Jersey, we had a near death experience, but all three of us survived my driving intact, and I feel like we are closer friends because of it. We dropped Josh off in Albany and got home safe eventually. The important part of the drive home is that is on the way home I was learning about Canadian history from Andrew and then we somehow got onto the topic of the Emu War and if you haven’t heard of this you need to read up ASAP. It’s amazing.
- My thanks to everyone who bought me a drink, please know that I owe you two in kind, whenever I next see you.
- To all my friends I got to see for a brief period of time: it wasn’t enough. It never feels like enough, so please come see me so we can spend some more time together.
- Most of all thank you to Andrew, Becca, Josh, and Amanda, for being the greatest road trip buddies ever. I am a very high maintenance germophobe with anxiety issues, so putting up with me for that length of time takes a lot of patience and I love you all so much for it.