On Beaches, Backyard Grilling, Deck Beers, and the Pre-Eminent Value of the THN Draft Guide

There’s wide variety to the recreation we employ on summer’s first (and long) weekend. Families pack the car and head for the beach. Those remaining at home often host the season’s opening backyard barbeque. Still others take in a ballgame with the kids or garden or dive into summer reading in a hammock. My time-honored tradition associated with this holiday weekend combines the anticipation of Christmas morning with the devoted labor of study for final exams in graduate school: Memorial weekend inaugurates my Season of DraftGeekdom, and on its kickoff Friday I stroll excitedly to a District bookstore near my office to secure the newly arrived Hockey News NHL Entry Draft Preview. With it I will whittle away the long weekend hours, come rain or shine, intoxicated by three-paragraph summaries of eighteen-year-olds who are the hoped-to-be future of hockey.
THN’s not the most informative or important of my Entry Draft resources, but over the years it’s tended to arrive on newsstands in Washington quite near the holiday weekend, and so its procurement serves as the spiritual kickoff to my holiday weekend. It’s true: during one of the calender’s most powerful symbols of summer my thoughts and doings remain lodged in winter.
Once I possess the cherished Guide, I make like Sandy Berger leaving the National Archives.
I was business traveling from the American Southwest during the end of this past week, and so my trip to a Washington-area Borders or Barnes & Noble for the Guide was delayed until Saturday morning. This caused sleeplessness in me only Tuesday through Friday nights. My Draft addiction is such that I actually entered all the newsstands in my airline’s gates in both the Vegas and Phoenix airports this week hoping to find the Guide.
As if. I may as well have been searching for Vermont Maple syrup there.
Returned home and being out in the Maryland suburbs added some drama to my Guide search Saturday morning: typically, I couldn’t be certain of finding this or any other edition of THN there. Initially I struck out at the Borders at Bethesda’s White Flint Mall, but at my next stop, at the Barnes & Noble just up the road on Rockville Pike, I discovered the Guide prominently showcased with two or three other special edition sports magazines. 10:25 Saturday morning was a Christmas morning moment for me.
Of course I could subscribe to THN or even order the Guide on line and be assured of securing a copy in time for Memorial weekend, but I actually savor the shopping search for it. It’s just become a highly personal routine that delivers a highly personal reward for this DraftGeek.
Whether at the beach or in a mountain chalet or simply relaxing hard by my retired father’s pool, I make a fair portion of summer’s first weekend a devoted study of the Entry Draft eligibles. A lot of Washingtonians remember boardwalk dalliances or Bayside flirtations from Memorial weekends past; I remember first learning of Joe Finley’s USHL thuggery under a cloudless Ocean City sky in May 2004.
Pre OFB, my devotion to the Draft knew no limitation of season, no rival for my affection, and rather was a year-round pursuit. But blog feeding has marginalized my single-minded immersion in the devotion. So Memorial weekend, arriving almost a month to the day before the Draft, has for the past couple of Mays for me carried a heightened sense of homework. I have a lot of catching up to do.
My studying typically includes the THN Guide; all 245-plus pages of Central Scouting’s Draft guide (I print that out in the office after hours); TSN’s thoughts draft; and at least three well-regarded mock drafts posted at hockeysfuture from “insiders” whose forecasting over the years has proven to be reliable. Beer-bellied family men struggle to deliver refreshments-laden coolers to the family beach blanket across acres of sun-baked sand on May’s final Saturday; I grunt from the backpack weight of my literature pertaining to 18-year-old hockey players hailing from towns I’ll never visit in this lifetime.
There are estimates that on Memorial weekend Saturday an excess of 100,000 sunbathers convene on the Maryland and Delaware beaches. Among them, beach towel reading is commonly comprised of lurid paperbacks, newspapers, and various categories of best-sellers. Lugging my beach-bound backpack teeming with reams of Entry Draft drivel, I was — and am — aware of my idiosyncratic subject matter reading. I figured that no more than 5,000 of Ocean City’s 100,000 sand-studying in shades could be joining me in wondering whether the WHL’s class of prospects in a given year was superior to the Q’s.
Part of my devotion-addiction in this weekend’s pursuit is premised on the novelty of the whole thing. I just really like knowing where a Moose Jaw Warriors’ third-liner — who bears a fiery streak of viscousness, mind you — ought to be selected according to a plurality of draft prognostications. I admit, with pride, that I am a card-carrying member of sports’ equivalent to a Star Trek conventioner.
Memorial Weekend 2008 in Washington will be remembered for its beauty. How could it not — according to THN, still available on the draft board when the Caps pick in round one should be one Anton Gustafsson.

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4 Responses to On Beaches, Backyard Grilling, Deck Beers, and the Pre-Eminent Value of the THN Draft Guide

  1. karen says:

    Dude-get a subscription and you won’t have to go on a needle in the haystack chase for the draft preview-it gets delivered to your house! I got mine last week!

  2. TG says:

    Can we make sure Anton wears #16? If so I know a couple people that could wear their old jerseys with pride.

  3. Gustafsson says:

    I would be one of them. Though, I would probably get a white version of the current sweater to be proper.
    I’d also have to change my blog name.

  4. Andrew says:

    How sweet would that be? If Anton were to play with the big club in the near future, we could ice an all russian then an all sweedish line

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