The chants began the moment the St. Louis Blues announced David Rundblad as the 17th pick overall.
In a media scrum (oh about 60 scribes and such strong) around Louis Leblanc in the basement corridors of the Bell, the "Louis" chant stuck in my head. I starting thinking that the crowd's chants sounded a whole lot like the old Kingmen's fraternity rock hit "Louie, Louie" from 1961. You know the tune with the indecipherable lyrics that went something like:
"Lou - EE, Lou - I, oh no, we gotta go, Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said, Louie Louie, oh baby, we gotta go"
I mentioned to Bertrand Raymond, standing right next to me, that this kid already had his goal song. Raymond promptly chuckled, pulled out his notepad, and scribbled a sentence or two.
Standing up close to the player as he answered rapid fire questions, my first impressions of him were that he is cool and collected, genuinely intelligent, very much billingual and quite a respectful kid. Certain questions were repetitive, but Leblanc didn't spin repetitive replies. He answered, looking each question's author straight in the eyes - an admirable quality in a kid of 18.
More than once or twice, he mentioned his parents in his replies, admitting full well that he isn't standing there without there dedication.
In perhaps the most pointed questions handed to him, he gave unfliching honest answers.
When asked about his chances of making the club this coming October, Leblanc replied that his game needed the required growth of two years at Harvard first, and then we'll see what transpires.
The inevitable "pressure" question was quick in coming, and his reply offered up a maturity beyond his teenage looks.
Leblanc first mentioned how often he has attended games at the Bell Centre, and the benefit of being a local kid. He noted that it was not as though he were unfamiliar with the pros and cons of the situation, as a player from outside the province would be. He did add that he understands there will always be ups and downs involved with playing in Montreal.
Did Leblanc expect to be selected by the Canadiens?
Since the combine earlier this month, he understood that it was a very strong possibility, one which took up much of his thoughts.
After having fielded a good 20 questions, the herd at Leblanc's feet thinned out some. There were perhaps 15 of us left after a good 30 minutes spent before him. Two or three times, I had attempted a question of my own, and got about as far as an opened, speechless mouth. Leblanc was looking directly at me, when questions arrived from opposite angles. I stepped a little closer as one reported left, and Leblanc, seemingly sensing I had something to ask, leaned towards me.
The trouble for me was, all my most curious of questions had already been asked. So I blurted out:
"Do you think there is anyone in the province right now, more happier than you are?"
I guess that would constitute a left field question, as a few heads turned to look at the idiot asking it. Leblanc shook his head once, grinned slightly, maybe a bit sheepishly, and affirmatively answered, "No". A few laughs ensued from the folks around.
I get the sense that this will be a kid who will be very well liked when his time comes. I know that I will be cheering for him, as a fan, because he gives me the impression that he is one young man who wants something badly.
A little coincidental side note to the Habs drafting Leblanc.
I've already received a few e-mails noting that Leblanc was the first prospective player I profiled at the site that would look at home in a Habs uni. That's called "dumb luck", my friends.
What was truly weird, was when I was leaving Cornwall nearing 3 p.m., I was stopped at a red light at the last intersection in town. Two kids wearing minor league baseball jerseys walked in front of my car. The closest kid had his name and number on his back: Gervais 5.
The other kid, and I kid you not: Leblanc 18!
The first person I told this to, oddly, was the Gazette's Mike Boone. He'll vaunch.
Prior to the start of the draft, I walked down to the gate that separates the press area from the draft floor. I was lured to a particular photo op by a long haired John Ferguson Jr. at the San Jose Sharks table. I snapped my pic, and turned to find Habs Inside Out's Boone standing next to me. Mike and I have met a time or two before.
Boone and I had a run - in a while back. It's in the past now. Mike's words - "fresh start" meant a lot to me.
The entire first round was quite an experience, in every regard. It's 4 a.m. as I begin to post this, and I'm heading back up to the Bell for rounds 2 to 7 today (Saturday).
When draft weekend is a wrap, I'll have lots to share.
I've an abundance of pics, video, audio, notes, and stories to wade through. Tomorrow should add more.
The perspective I hoped to capture, was something along the lines of....."rabid Fan blogger gains media credentials to Draft Day" outlook. I chose this angle, as it perhaps allows readers to step into my shoes on this weekend, somewhat bedazzled by it all.
Hopefully, in the content I post over the coming days, such a notion comes across. I hope that it captures the idea that I wish you could all be there with me.