As I wait for the 2009 NHL draft and the 30th pick therein, I was watching the NHL Channel, and caught one of their 'special' programs. (no, not 'The Day That Changed Hockey for the 7,436th time) You know the one where they follow the 4 or 5 guys, the ones that they think will go 1-4 in the draft and that one 'human interest' guy who either could be a possible draft sleeper or some one's son, or whatever. Well, anyway, they were following Stamos around prior to his being picked first by the Lightning Bugs (yeah, I like watching mysteries I already know the solution to) and when he talked about 'getting his nap in before the 7:00 start of the draft', it struck me.... Hockey players are lazy bastards. Think about it.... they work 3 hours a night, 2, maybe 3 nights a week for 8-9 months a year. (try making the rent on those hours with your job) What they call 'practice' basically amounts to skating with their buddies for 2-3 hours on days they don't 'work'. (and since most of them are Canadian they'd be doing that anyway) Then they go home and, even if they don't have to 'work' that night, they go to sleep for their afternoon nap! If they're any good at their 'job' they'll retire in their early 30's (except for Chelios who's trying to be the Dick Clark of hockey) then they'll either open a bar/restaurant, a skating rink, or get a 'job' watching younger guys do the same thing they just 'retired' from! I think I'll go slap my mother for insisting that going to school was going to 'be better for you in the long run' than 'playing games with your friends'. I know hockey is physically demanding, but the hours are fantastic (and I'm thinking really hard about those naps!)
Well in their quest to add more young people to this Fraternity of Laziness the Penguins have picks in every round of the Draft, which is a new and exciting thing. Of course their first pick is number 30 overall and then jumps into the 60's then goes to the 120's, and so on. Which makes it sound like the only ones who'll be left will be the hockey version of the (insert derogatory slang word here) left-over geeks when picking for schoolyard basketball, but the Pens have done some mighty things with lower-end draft picks (Mad Max was picked 234th, and we all know how good that turned out) but unlike the NFL draft we're unlikely to see anyone after the first 5-6 picks for a few years. So, be patient, and remember..... they're only accepting the job because of the naps! (I wonder if my boss would go for.... nah!)
Of course this is all prelude to next Wed. when free-agency opens up. I've been hearing serious rumor-rumblings about Syko (say it ain't so!) and The Ever Dangerous Rob Scuderi (please say it ain't so!), possibly searching greener (Benjamin green that is) pastures, but nothing definitive yet. The rumor lines are mysteriously silent on the subject of Bill Guerin, however. (Listen to Geno. TWO MORE YEARS!!) You get to like these guys so much, it's tough to think about any of them leaving, but then again, if everybody stays how will we get a peek at the Younger Afternoon-Nappers? Ben Lovejoy, Paul Biz-nasty, Luca 'You'll sleep with the fishes' Caputi, or (calm down Vince) Janne Pesonen? I'll tell ya one thing, no matter how it turns out, it's great to be excited about hockey this time of year. Too many 'What's the current crop of losers?' years not to enjoy this now.