The scouts have their notebooks at the ready, the video crews are busy putting the finishing touches on the equipment to record the nights activities. Don and John (John filling in for Bob) are polishing up the speech and the players get ready to chow down before hitting the ice.
The Top Prospects game is set to go, as Junior Hockey's elite gather in Vancouver for a one night display of game like intensity. Last night the skills competition took place as Team Davidson edged the Team Cherry squad in the fancy skating, puck handling and always exciting three on three competition.
With the sideshow of the Crosby no show now dying down, perhaps we can all get back to watching the young stars of tomorrow show their stuff today. The Vancouver media and Ron Toigo, the owner of the Vancouver Giants had a bit of meltdown over Mr. Crosby's decision to sit this one out, feeling slighted that the Nova Scotian didn't much fancy a trans continental flight to make an appearance. Crosby for his part is a little annoyed at the backlash over his decision. Claiming that a sore back is keeping him out, he will instead rest at home and ready himself for the rest of the Quebec League schedule.
But while Sidney watches on the tube, his fellow juniors will be taking to the ice in a quest to move up the ladder on the depth of an NHL GM. While probably a bit over rated, (really if a GM and a scout are basing their first round decisions based on one game it's time to find new management) it is none the less a highly entertaining sixty minutes of hockey. The players mindful of the national television audience and the high number of scouts around, seem to perform at the highest level, no one seems to take a shift off.
In most all star type games the physical nature seems to take a back seat to the fancy skating and the pinpoint passing. For whatever reason the Prospects Game has more intensity. almost to the level of a Stanley Cup Game 7. It makes for a good show and the sell out crowd in Vancouver will no doubt enjoy themselves even without the much celebrated (and now dis-honoured) Mr. Crosby.
While the top few players will always be the top few players, it's the guys in the middle that have the most to gain from tonight's game, moving up in the pack from 15 to top 10 could make a huge difference on draft day. A good impression tonight could take a player to the bank in June!