OTTAWA--It's not entirely clear whether some fool did indeed yell "Wade Belak" as Zdeno Chara and Joffrey Lupul were deciding on a defenceman to pick Thursday night at the NHL all-star draft.
Videos making the rounds on social media seem to suggest that was indeed the case. Those inside the audiorium at the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau - remember, all mainstream media are not permitted inside the actual studio because it is a TSN event - said they didn't hear it.
So let's say it may have happened, but either way let's not make it representative of the entire audience that night, although it wasn't anything close to the type of crowd that might attend the NHL awards. Or the draft. This was a more like a pro wrestling crowd, except with a lot fewer women (none?).
The Maple Leafs at the event - Lupul, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf - were the designated heels and bore the brunt of the crowd's animosity, which surprised no one. What did surprise some was how the fans, or some of them, got carried away, turning the air a bit blue and a bit ugly.
Sure, boo if you want. But it is an all-star game, and by most accounts, these folks went too far. It wasn't fun. It was negative and certainly didn't promote the game. Very small town.
TSN worked extremely hard to overcome that and the fact the draft itself was rather home hum. God Bless James Duthie and his tireless efforts to drum up humour and conversation. They mic'd everyone, but the only noteworthy line they got was from Patrick Kane commenting on the "unbelievable" charms of a young lady working onstage.
But it didn't pack the punch of the first year, and while the players association might like it (why?) there's already a belief this draft concept might be history after only two tries.
There wasn't one notable selection, and what you saw was Daniel Alfredsson picking his pals and countrymen and Zdeno Chara avoiding Vancouver Canucks and both making sure no veteran players were embarrassed like Kessel was last year.
The final pick of Jamie Benn over Logan Couture? Could only have mattered to the Benn and Couture families.
So it's time to tinker again. My idea would be to pick captains and assistants two or three weeks before the game, then hold a TV draft on which they can pick anyone they want for their all-star team, perhaps with a limit of two teammates. Now THAT would be interesting, and actually be a gauge on how NHLers value other players.
Bring 'em together two weeks later in the all-star city and you might have a process with legs.
But who knows. This thing has been changed more than Brett Favre's mind. It just took a step down into the gutter Thursday in Gatineau.