This guy I know was out Saturday night in a bowling league at Lancaster Lanes about the time they were pulling team names for the National Hockey League Draft. The proprietors put the televised feed on the score terminals and all other activity stopped until it became clear that Edmonton and not Buffalo would be the home address for one Connor McDavid.
For being so lousy and not particularly concerned about it, the Buffalo Sabres will settle for a Boston area kid named Jack Eichel. All this 18 year old did was help Boston University to the Frozen Four national championship game, lead the nation in scoring, and win the Hobey Baker award as a freshman, the first player to do so since Paul Kariya, who was pretty good, did so at Maine in 1993. Jack isn't a bad consolation prize.
The NHL lottery was set up so that it was almost a foregone conclusion that the Sabres would get Eichel and not McDavid. As the league's worst team, Buffalo had a 20 percent chance to draw first, and an 80 percent chance to pick second. So while Sabres' fans and general manager Terry Murray complained about the outcome, no one should have been surprised.
In another week we'll experience the three day NFL Draft. Futures will be decided and fortunes made on national television, the ultimate reality show, without the prospective employee having any say over his immediate future.
Imagine if a draft were applied to other fields. The nation's top incoming surgeon could be assigned to practice in Wichita. Or they might send the new hot shot lawyer to work in Spokane. Have you been to either of those cities? Could you find them on a map? Wichita is in fact bigger than Buffalo and Spokane is larger than Green Bay.
Theoretically, assigning professionals from other walks of life to comparatively remote outposts, isn't that much different.
Still, these draft lotteries are a lot more fun than they used to be. My own experience came when my birthday was chosen out of a drum to determine my draft number for selective service. I drew 119, which put me in a grey area as far as my future was concerned. A year before my college deferment would have expired, they abandoned the draft. I got lucky. I could have been chosen to play for Saigon instead of White River Junction, Vermont, where my television career began.
You learn early that one way or another, life is really just a floating craps game. And as the good folks at the New York State Lottery say while they're picking your pockets, "Hey, you never know."