What will Brian Burke say when he gets to the podium? (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The NHL draft is fast approaching and with it comes a familiar assortment of phrases and clichés that are heard each and every year. Which ones are the best? That’s the focus of this week’s THN.com Top 10.
10. “We’d like to congratulate the (recently crowned championship team) on winning the Stanley Cup.”
This is one of the first things management members say when they step to the podium and on a phoniness scale of 1-10, it registers a 700,000. No NHL team employee says that to a competitor unless it’s through gritted teeth and prayers that it never happens again.
9. “He reminds me of a young (NHL legend).”
There’s nothing young players hate more than being compared to a present-day star NHLer or Hall of Famer, as it does little but set the prospect up to disappoint those who watch him. Remember, soul singer R. Kelly once said a woman reminded him of his jeep. Comparisons are completely subjective, often ridiculous and rarely worth the breath expended on them.
8. “My goal is to make the NHL next year.”
It’s a laugh-and-a-half watching a 160-pound teenager in a loose-fitting suit talk semi-confidently about knocking heads with 220-pound NHLers in just a few short months. While there always will be exceptions to the rule, the rule is you won’t see that player skating for the team that drafted him for quite a few years.
7. “In junior/college last season, he was a man among boys.”
This phrase is supposed to convey that a player dominated at his amateur level, but considering some are openly questioning the ages of certain players, it’s even less of a compliment than before and on the verge of being downright creepy.
6. “We’d like to say hi to all our team’s fans watching from our draft party at Billy Jim Joe Bob’s Crabshack, Nail Salon Emporium and Driving Range.”
This is another time-wasting exercise that pleases only a few hundred people at most. Unless the GM is prepared to pull out his Romper Room Magic Mirror (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td1KAgrYUGA), point it at the camera and tell us exactly which fans he sees through his magic lens, nobody cares. Do us a favor and thank them via your Twitter account!
5. “He’s got the most upside of anyone in the draft.”
If there’s one thing we know about the draft, it’s that we don’t know who eventually will demonstrate the most upside. Some top prospects already have reached their peak by draft day; others who aren’t drafted at all (think Martin St-Louis) will someday show they were the ones whose games could grow the most. In other words, upside, schmupside.
4. “We have a trade to announce…”
When commissioner Gary Bettman announces those six words, a hush falls over the crowd in attendance. But for every blockbuster trade that gets made, there are usually 100 minor deals (involving draft picks in future seasons and/or players nobody has heard of) that serve as a massive disappointment. Just don’t get your hopes up too much and you’ll be fine.
3. “We’re taking the best player available.”
The apparently revolutionary idea of a team choosing the player who it believes is better than any other player is held up every year as a honest-to-goodness strategy. Until a team publicly admits to choosing a player it doesn’t think is the best or until it attempts to choose the best unavailable player – say, by attempting to re-draft the No. 1 pick that season with the 145th pick – this should be considered the standard selection method.
2. “We’d like to thank the (host organization and host city) for their hospitality.”
Even if each GM or team member who said this (along with cliché No. 10) at the draft podium only took 30 seconds to get it out, that’s a good 15 minutes of time wasted once all 30 teams repeat it. Why not let Bettman speak that sentiment at the start of the draft and save everyone else the time?
1. “We couldn’t believe he was still available when it was our turn to pick.”
The Queen Mother of draft clichés is all about blowing smoke up the behind of the player drafted and giving fans and media the impression the organization committed a heist of criminal proportions. We get it, GMs – all the other GMs are out of their minds for letting your newest player drop.