The 2019 NHL Draft has come and gone and for those of you who have attended the event before, you would have noticed something different with this year’s draft…. no fan fest. Over the course of the last six years, the host city has put on a fan fest which would include live music, NHL Awards being on display, interactive games and of course the prized Stanley Cup. During an appearance at the SMWW conference, Vancouver Canucks VP of Hospitality Ella Chan mentioned that logistics and spacing were two of the main reasons for the decision.
This was also the only big hockey event in Canada this year because they didn’t get a Heritage Classic last season. When asked if fan fest would return next year in Montreal, Nicole Lee, NHL Senior Director of Sports Marketing Partnerships, said, “We are taking everything one year at a time, but the hope would be that it returns next year in Montreal.”
The Fan Perspective
Being a part of the NHL Draft is fun whether you’re a prospect or a fan. As a prospect, you have worked all your life to get to this moment however most prospects aren’t as nervous as you would think according to some friends of mine who say that they just try to wait it out. Montreal Canadiens first-round draft pick Cole Caufield was basically speechless when asked what it felt like to be drafted, saying, “It’s amazing” as part of a brief statement and there certainly is no question he was happy as he got his picture taken on stage with the Montreal Canadiens after having been selected in the draft’s first round.
The Draft also lands during the beginning of the NHL offseason which is a very exciting time for hockey fans because the draft is two days after the NHL Awards in Las Vegas and just a week later, the free agency frenzy begins.
As a fan at the NHL Draft, some of the most exciting words you can hear are “We have a trade to announce.” When those words are said, most of us already know what the trade is because we have probably found out through Twitter or one of the countless smartphone apps that we have on our phones. But it’s just great to be in the room and look around the arena to see the countless interactions going on and the emotions on everyone’s face once they find out what deal was made.
Melissa Residovoic was attending her first NHL Draft this season and was running all over the arena, meeting some of the NHL’s newest draft picks. In response to having been question about meeting all the future NHL’ers, Melissa said, “It’s my favourite part of the draft.” Residovoic, like most people, felt down about not having a fan fest and most of the city not knowing about the draft. When asked about attending next year’s draft in Montreal, Residovic said she plans on going, but is really hoping that Montreal has a fan fest. Her plans on going may also be influenced due to the fact she is a fan of the Montreal Canadiens.