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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Jerseys Arrive in Ottawa

I arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday evening after spending two hours on the LaGuardia runway with my fellow Air Canada passengers. The “08” Islanders draft jerseys were with me and never left my sight.

I’d like to think I’m going to get a lot accomplished in my few days in Ottawa. From league meetings to making contacts with the national hockey media.. I’m going to have a busy few days. But none of that is important if I don’t have jerseys with the accompanying nameplates with me on Friday night when the Islanders select …. With the fifth overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

What am I talking about? I’ll explain.

A few weeks before the draft, I got a list of names from Hockey Operations with potential names of players we might draft in the first round. It’s pretty obvious stuff, especially when you’re drafting fifth overall.

We take those names and make up nameplates (the fabric that has the players name sown onto the jersey material). Each nameplate has Velcro attached to the back so I can throw the nameplate on the jersey when I get the heads up from Garth right before he announces our pick. It should look pretty seamless when Garth selects…

These names and subsequent nameplates are guarded closely. Not so much because I think someone will look at my nondescript duffel bag and steal them, but because at this point I can’t afford to lose them!

Just as I did in 2006 when Kyle Okposo was drafted, I didn’t let these nameplates out of my sight when traveling today. The nameplates and five jerseys sat in a small duffle bag right in front of my seat the entire flight. I’m not willing to take the chance and have it being lost with my luggage.

If there is one thing I do right in Ottawa it is to make sure I can make up the jersey for …. And hand it off to Garth on Friday night for announcement and presentation.

I’ll probably sneak under the draft table to keep it a secret as long as possible when I get the word and I’m going to do my best to put it on straight. (Back in ’06, I almost put Okposo’s nameplate on backwards since his name starts and ends with an “O” and a certain former GM was pushing me under the table to hide it from the TV cameras!)

And as always, I hope the nameplate stays on the jersey!

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