Hockey players became stand-up comedians for a night as the NHL all-star draft turned into an entertainment program that could be better television than the skills competition or the game.
Captain Jonathan Toews cracked that he picked Phil Kessel because he's "one of the most coachable players out there," then traded him for Tyler Seguin because, well, why not. Superstar Alex Ovechkin of the $10 million salary stole the show by spending the night lobbying for a $20,000 car.
Ovechkin didn't get his wish, but players had plenty of laughs and maybe a few drinks, too, as fans were treated to a different side of players than they usually see.
"We're trying to enjoy ourselves," Kessel said. "I think this league's different than any other league. I don't think you would see that in any league around and that's why this league's special."
Players spent the draft drinking out of plastic cups like college students, then couldn't come to a consensus afterward on what was in them. Kessel said it was Coca-Cola, Jake Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers said Red Bull, and other players were even less believable.
"Just some water. I don't know, water," Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings said. "When you come from L.A. to Columbus, you struggle to stay hydrated just because of the long flights and whatnot, so we made sure to get a lot of water in us."
With the all-stars well-hydrated, the jokes were flowing, too. The best zing came when captain Nick Foligno announced a trade that "worked out for both teams in the past," sending Seguin to Toews for Kessel.
"I was heartbroken about that one," Toews said with some sarcasm. "It's part of the business. Sometimes you've got to part ways with guys and players that you feel strongly about. That was the case there."
Kessel survived the first trade, from the Boston Bruins to Toronto Maple Leafs for draft picks, one of which turned into Seguin. He said he'll be fine this time, too.
"Well, fellas I've been there before," Kessel said. "I got traded for the same person and I think it worked out OK for everyone."
Kessel was the second pick in the draft after Foligno took Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Ryan Johansen first. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators were the last two left and each got a Honda Accord that Ovechkin was pushing so hard for.
Ovechkin said before the draft he was hoping to go last because he needed a car. He even wrote that on a sign for another interview but was left without the extra wheels.
"He was special tonight wasn't he?" Kessel said of Ovechkin. "Obviously, Ovi was having a good time and enjoying himself and I think that's what the all-star weekend is about."