Logistics completely different, unprecedented for 2020 NHL draft — Calgary Sun

For as long as anyone can remember, the drill has been the same each summer. Read More

Logistics completely different, unprecedented for 2020 NHL draft — Calgary Sun

Kristen AndersonPublishing date:Oct 02, 2020  •  Last Updated 28 minutes ago  •  4 minute read

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 22: (L-R) Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs  and Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets attend the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 22: (L-R) Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets attend the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. PHOTO BY BRUCE BENNETT /Getty Images

For as long as anyone can remember, the drill has been the same each summer.

Gary Bettman congratulates the Stanley Cup winner to a chorus of boos and introduces the first team picking first overall at the National Hockey League draft.

The team steps up to the plate and announces their pick. There are cheers from the kid’s friends and family that have travelled ‘X’ kilometres to watch the most important moment in their loved one’s life to date.

The kid walks up to the stage and puts on a jersey. Conducts an awkward interview with the rights holder. And off he goes.
But much like everything in 2020, this year’s draft has been flipped upside down and is set to be one of the most unique experiences in its’ 58-year history.

Beyond being postponed over three months, everything will be different — visually, logistically, and technically.

“The NFL was more limited because it was a little bit earlier in the pandemic,” Flames head scout Tod Button was saying.

“Everyone was at their home work station. Because of different state laws and the NFL does everything uniformly throughout the league, the teams that were allowed to get together and didn’t have as many restrictions, they didn’t allow them to.”

Both Flames general manager Brad Treliving and assistant general manager Chris Snow have been in conversation with National Football League personnel, regarding the 2020 NFL Draft which was held in late April and shortly after the global health crisis hit its’ peak. Their advice?

Make sure things are covered from an IT perspective.

“The basis and the regulations, if you will, around the draft are similar,” Treliving said. “But it will be unique with the virtual (aspect). Normally you have a direct line to each table. The fact we’re not in the same building, that’s unavailable. You have enough contact numbers and people with cell phones so those will be active. What we saw stylistically (from the NFL draft), I don’t know all the things the NHL has planned, but we’re looking forward to it. It’ll be a well-done event.

“The NHL has planned really well on it so I think it’ll be a good event.”

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 22: Tom Dundon (C) of the Carolina Hurricanes attends the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tom Dundon (C) of the Carolina Hurricanes attends the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. PHOTO BY BRUCE BENNETT /Getty Images

With no mandated restrictions from the NHL except to adhere to the local government COVID-19 rules and regulations surrounding indoor public gatherings, the Flames are able to bring in some of their scouting staff members and management to set up in two different boardrooms at Scotiabank Saddledome. The rest — U.S., European and some Canadian-based scouts — will be present via the team’s WebEx conference call system.

There will be an area set up close-by with a Flames’ backdrop where they will announce their selections. For the Flames, that’s picks No. 19, 50, 96, 143, 174, and 205. (They’ll also potentially select 81st overall, but it’s dependant on the Edmonton Oilers who have conditions on the third-round pick due to the James Neal-Milan Lucic trade last summer).

The time frame to select will be similar to past years with five minutes from when a team goes on the clock until they make a selection in the first round with that allotted time dropping to three minutes in the second through seventh rounds.

Just to be safe, they’re planning to have two dress rehearsals — one on Sunday and one on Monday.

“All the warnings I’ve received from everyone is that IT is going to be essential across the league — fax machines, web, everything has to be working,” Button said. “All the rest of it, how you set up the war-room, the biggest complaint from the NFL and what I’ve read after, you couldn’t tell who was who. If you didn’t know a certain person and what team they were from, you couldn’t tell who they were. Some guys were set up in their kitchen. Some guys were set up outdoors.

“The big thing is when they go to the war-room or the staging area where they’re going to do the picks, it’s going to be easy to identify that it’s the Calgary Flames.”

There are rumblings that a large chunk of players have been given instructions on logging into the broadcast from their homes to be interviewed if they’re taken in the first round. So, if you’re watching on TV, it sounds like there will be an opportunity to see the players’ reactions.

But, like anything these days, working remotely and working from home will change things.

“It’s the first time this has ever happened,” Treliving said. “The biggest thing would be that … so, what do you miss? You miss the in-person stuff, but a lot of that stuff — regardless of whether you’re in the city or not — you’re doing it on the phone. It’ll be interesting to see how it flows. It’ll be new.

“I don’t think it’s going to prevent anything or change anything. It’ll just be a new process, for sure.”

kanderson@postmedia.com

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