At least the league is going out with a bang. After a unanimous vote to discontinue in-person drafts starting in 2025, the league is finalizing details to hold the 2024 edition in the City of Sin, Las Vegas on June 28th and 29th. While there are plenty of arenas or hotel ballrooms they could hold it, it appears the league is looking to go a bit over the top and hold the event at The Sphere.
Yup, that big ol’ round ball that bills itself as “a world-first immersive destination” will play host to the final draft that will be attended to by all 32 general managers and their scouting staffs. Mr. Gary Bettman claims that the event will be “pretty dramatic”.
It’ll be interesting to see how a league that almost always finds a way to shoot itself in the foot utilizes the unique atmosphere that The Sphere offers. The venue offers a totally immersive experience and is currently hosting a U2 live music experience to be followed by four shows by Phish (you may want to ease back on the hallucinogenics if you plan on attending).
Starting with the 2025 draft, the experience will be decentralized with the general managers and their staffs conducting their picks from their home cities. Not only will it be logistically easier for them, they will be able to transition to free agency easier, and the team can hold fan events. At least that’s the line of reasoning that they’re feeding the public to justify the change.
Vegas, the franchise, would find a way to go over the top even if the draft was being held at an abandoned airplane hanger. Personally, I’m looking forward to what they pull off.
Lightning / NHL News
Is it me or has there been a lot of broken digits this year? The Flames goaltender left practice early yesterday after taking a puck off of an unpadded area on his hand. Today it was revealed that he broke a finger and will be out for a few weeks.
Coyotes reportedly eyeing northeast Phoenix land for new arena site [Arizona Sports]
Maybe the Coyotes will get this one right. They supposedly are close to finishing up a deal for a plot of land in Phoenix with the intent of building an arena for the hockey team. Or, they are making it seem like they’re intent on buying the land so that they can bid a couple of cities in Arizona (remember the letter of intentt to buy property in Mesa?) against each other to pay for an arena for their hockey team.
Oddly enough I’m watching Good WIll Hunting while typing this up. There may be no Robin Williams in this story, but for Connor Ingream, therapy not only saved his career, but maybe his life.
NHL expresses concern over arena delays in Milan [Daily Faceoff]
The Olympics are just under two years away, but even if the league, players association, IIHF, and International Olympic Committee work out a deal that allows NHL players to participate, there is apparently no guarantee that the arena will even be ready since they haven’t begun construction yet. Believe it or not, the league that currently has one team playing in a college arena, is concerned about the playing conditions for the Olympics.