One choice the New York Islanders made in preparation for this draft seems to have escaped debate so far—John Buccigross, SportsCenter anchor and ESPN.com hockey columnist, was tapped by the Islanders to serve as host of this year's Draft Party.
Buccigross is one of those media figures who attracts a fervent fan base. If you subscribe to his style in front of the camera and behind the keyboard, the publishing of his weekly column during hockey season becomes appointment reading. Fans of Buccigross who attended the Draft Party last Friday could not have walked away disappointed.
Buccigross spent nearly every minute when he wasn't on stage talking to fans, taking pictures with them, and signing autographs. When the mood of the evening turned disgruntled, Buccigross handled the shift deftly with understanding and humor. His cue to the crowd to greet Josh Bailey warmly, while perhaps unnecessary, demonstrated a great read on the room and compassion for a youngster who was unknowingly walking into an awkward situation.
After Buccigross had fulfilled his hosting duties, he took the time to field questions from the Blog Box and talk a little hockey—and a little music, too. He revealed himself to be just as sharp, funny, and engaging off the air and the page as he is on. If you have not seen this session elsewhere, here's the video, courtesy of B.D. Gallof.
In her personal reflection on the evening, my colleague Dee Karl brought you a little scoop from Buccigross about the future of hockey on ESPN thanks to some curious fans outside the Coliseum.
What Dee left for me to tell was the humorous exchange that followed between Buccigross and the same group of fans. At this point, Buccigross was only in shouting distance as he made his way across the plaza: Fan (shouting): Why did Garth Snow drop the ball? JB: (shouting back): Maybe he didn't! Fan: I've never heard of this guy! JB: He's only 18! A lot can change! Look at Britney Spears!