When I decided to go to the NHL Draft 2009 Tweetup, I figured it was just going to be a bunch of hockey nerds hanging out, drinking beer and watching the Draft. And it was. But it was so much more.
I met up with @dani3boyz at Penn Station at about 7:45 on Thursday morning. We were both sleepy, carting absurdly heavy luggage and ridiculously excited about the trip ahead of us. We finagled seats together on a sold out train (and by “finagled”, I totally mean that we annoyed a woman into moving cars) and settled in for our trip. As a sidenote, a trip that long could be a nightmare with someone you don’t get along with. We had a blast, and we live-tweeted the journey, because we’re nerds like that.
We were pretty relaxed for most of the way, but once we crossed the border, we could barely contain our excitement. The cab drivers outside the train station informed us that our hotel was in walking distance, and we took their word for it (which was a mistake). However, the bright side of this was that we got to walk past the Bell Centre.
We settled into our hotel room, got some McDonald’s for dinner (yes, you read that right), and zoned out (especially Dani, who had an extended conversation with me, in her sleep).
Friday morning we rolled out of bed, and began immediately making plans for the day. Once a plan was agreed upon, we started getting ready and then headed out to meet a certain blogger for lunch on Crescent Street. Our first indication that this weekend was going to be a little crazy and a lot hockey soaked came when we were informed by our lunch companion that we’d just stood on the corner for ten minutes with Matt Duchene, without realizing it. We were flabbergasted by that and giggled for a few minutes.
After lunch we wandered down to buy merchandise at the Bell Centre and to pick up @EP31 and @schtimpy27, and then we all moved on to Ye Olde Orchard, which was the hub of Tweetup Activities that weekend, to say hello to @amandafortier @metricjulie @kyleroussel and @All_Habs (who are all awesome, by the by), and to pick up our Draft tickets. At some point, we went outside to call our families and get some fresh air, and I ran into Adam Graves. I think the Rangers Draft Cap, with its ginormous logo, may have tipped his buddies off to my being a fan, but who knows?
What I do know that is that he is really nice and his friends are really funny and he gives nice hugs.
At this point, I was still thinking, “Yeah, okay, that’s a fluke.” We went back inside to keep hanging out (and let me come down from the high) and waited for more folks to arrive. The awesome just kept coming, and by awesome, I mean all kinds of unbelievably awesome folks that I was so excited to see. There was so much laughing and prodding and teasing and joking and I really felt like that was a huge part of what I’d come to Montreal for. Of course, what we really came for was the draft, so we all headed over to the Bell Centre in smaller groups. Dani and I stopped outside because there was a pickup game going on involving a bunch of kids and a guy who looked a lot like Georges Laraque.
Because he was. He was grinning ear-to-ear the whole time he was playing, especially when a boy who couldn’t have been more than thirteen tried to start trouble with him. It was adorable and hilarious. Inside the Centre, we found our group and took our seats. Dani and I made attempts to get on the rumoured wireless connection, to no avail. Ordinarily this might not have been too bad, but we were there for a Tweetup, so we whipped out our Blackberries and prepared to live Tweet the event.
I have to confess that being travel buddies with an Islanders fan for this whole thing made the night that much more interesting; when Garth Snow called Tavares’ name, @dani3boyz visibly relaxed. She turned to me and said, “That is the first time I’ve breathed in months.”
With that over and the Rangers not picking until much later in the evening, I turned my attention towards @sarah_connors, who, armed with binoculars and a wicked sense of humour, was running color commentary on the status of the tables on the floor. There were moments of worry (the million times she lost sight of the Bruins’ runner) and glee (the Hawks sending the Bruins a brownie via runner, Cam Neely’s presence, Kris Letang flipping his hair) and it was awesome. After all was said and done, everyone decided that the best way to close out the night was with food and beer, so off to the restaurant we went.
Having been drafted first overall for the US NHL Tweetup Ball Hockey tournament, I was meant to be up at 7:00 to get ready. Sadly, my stomach decided to interfere with these plans, meaning that I watched the tournament via Twitter updates on my Blackberry from underneath the covers at my hotel. Tragically, the US fell to Canada in a game decided by goalie shootout. There will always be next year….
At any rate, Dani returned to our room with @sabotek, who needed to clean up a bit after spending the morning in a hot and humid gymnasium playing hockey. We all primped and prepped and then headed out to Ye Olde Orchard for the main tweetup – an event of tremendous joy! It was so nice to spend a Saturday afternoon hanging out and talking hockey with a bunch of fellow fans. I even let Eklund talk to me on camera (I am a backstage chick, not on-camera) about the Rangers draft pick.
The NHL Foundation had kindly donated signed jerseys (among other prizes) for the event, and I won the signed Western Conference All Stars jersey. Hilariously, @sarah_connors had won the Vincent Lecavalier Bolts jersey earlier, and she cared as much about that as I did about mine. So we executed the trade of the weekend.
Nobody was really ready to split up after the Tweetup, so a large pack of us opted to wander down to Old Montreal. On the way, we picked up coffee at Tim Horton’s for Dani, along with quite a bit of grief about how long the walk was and how long we were taking to get there. Once there, though, everyone had to admit that it was gorgeous.
Eventually, @sarah_connors and I decided that what we really wanted to do was head straight up to Crescent Street to hit a bar for drinks and laughs. We made arrangements with everyone about getting in touch, and then took off. On a whim, we picked Thursdays, on Crescent, above Ste. Catherine’s. What we learned is that Sarah and I have VERY GOOD WHIMS.
On arrival, we noticed a small group of dudes in Avalanche polo shirts. Sarah went over to chat with them, as she will soon be a Colorado resident, and we discovered that they were the Avalanche scouting team. “Nice!” we both said, and commenced with drinking. After a few minutes, I glanced up and “OMG, that’s Bruce Boudreau!” He quickly realized he’d been recognized, and came over to hang out. And oh my god, that was the tip of the iceburg. He returned again and again, quite taken with Sarah, who he called “Varly” most of the time, due to her Washington Capitals “Varlamov” t-shirt. He became quite a fixture at our corner.
After several visits, and a multitude of tweets by both of us, @kuyaz decided to give up on nursing his feet and head over to join us. With his voice added to the chorus of awesome, it was only a matter of time before @schtimpy27 pulled on street clothes and jumped in a cab. We met coaches, scouts, and about a billion other people. At some point we were rejoined by Dani and the Isles bloggers, who wandered off to find the Islanders scouts. Dani and I had an exchange about what time our train was and what time we had to be up, and decided that it was moot – if Bruce Boudreau wanted to close the bar, we could sleep in New York when we got home. And so we did.
Tragically, the dawning of Sunday meant that it was time to go home. I can say with great certainty that the eleven hour ride home was far less exciting and entertaining than the one to Montreal. I was so sad to leave, and couldn’t believe that the weekend of awesome was over. NHL Tweetup Draft 2009 was so amazing and fun-filled that even #danineversleeps had to rest.
I still can’t believe that it’s finished for this year. I miss everyone that I met and hung out with, and I can’t wait to see you all at Draft 2010. Where the USA will redeem themselves and take the Gold back from team Canada on a game winning goal by a once promising ball hockey draft pick. (Hey, a girl can dream.)