Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scouting Party Blues, Hosts of Nhl Draft Next Year, Study Lay of the Land in Edmonton

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scouting Party Blues, Hosts of Nhl Draft Next Year, Study Lay of the Land in Edmonton

Article excerpt

As hockey fans crowded into the glistening pyramid atrium of Edmonton's city hall on Friday to hear the National Hockey League introduce its top prospects, a youngster approached a contingent of Blues office staffers.

The lad, wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and hat, wanted to know all about the Blues home.

"Well, how's St. Louis?" he asked. "How's the economy? How's the new arena?"

Wes Edwards of the Blues sales staff politely answered, extolling the virtues of St. Louis, its economy and new Kiel Center. He sold St. Louis, which, in a sense, was why he and his colleagues were here in the first place.

The Blues will host the 1996 NHL entry draft at Kiel, and they sent their staffers to Edmonton to learn about the event, to devise ways to jazz it up, plan the parties and festivities and, in effect, find ways to sell St. Louis to an international audience.

A media contingent from across the United States, Canada and Europe, some 300 strong, will converge on St. Louis next summer to cover the draft. NHL owners, their top executives, general managers, coaches, scouts and support staff will be on hand, as well as an international cast of some 250 draft-eligible players with their family, friends and agents.

The people who attend the draft will jam hotels and restaurants and pump an estimated $5 million into the local economy. They arrive three to four days in advance, attend meetings, interviews, parties and galas.

The top prospects are introduced the day before the draft at a midday gathering downtown. In Edmonton, workers and fans crowded into city hall, standing on staircases and three stories of cat walks to get a glimpse of the athletes.

Musicians played bagpipes and the Canadian Mounties, in full regalia, stood at attention as NHL Executive Vice President Brian Burke introduced the players.

The league trophies, including the Stanley Cup, also are on display.

The draft provides mystery and intrigue as rumors of No. 1 and blockbuser trades swirl. Much of the activity takes place behind the scenes, on the phones, in hotel lobbies, in the 1,200 or so hotel rooms booked for the event. …

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