There is no larger gathering of the hockey community than the NHL Draft. Somewhere in the host arena, you will find: 32 club front offices and their teams of scouts and support staff; the NHL’s brass and its hockey ops and event staff; a large number of NHL owners; broadcasters and analysts from multiple countries; every agent who is anyone in the business; and of course, the next generation of hockey stars.

It’s a hockey who’s who. The first time I attended the Draft in Buffalo in 2016, I stepped into an elevator to find Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Gary Bettman staring back at me. Two Hall of Famers and the grand poobah. It became clear to me pretty quickly that it was one of the biggest weekends on the hockey calendar.

Walking around the building, you immediately notice the players and their families. Beaming parents walking beside nervous-looking kids wearing ill-fitting suits for the first or second time in their lives, sometimes accompanied by girlfriends in cocktail dresses and heels that arenas don’t usually see unless Beyonce is on tour. As these families make their way down to their seats, it’s hard not to imagine what they must be thinking. The lives of their sons, and in many ways, their own lives, are about to change forever. You can actually feel the anticipation.

In the hours leading up to the Draft, team executives start to surface on the arena floor. Execs work the room, saying their hellos, patting each other on the back and maybe making one more attempt to pry a pick out of a team’s hands with a last-ditch trade proposal. Generally, though, teams head into Day 1 of the Draft with a plan, and it’s very unlikely that the plan changes before the first name is selected. That said, if a deal has been discussed leading up to the Draft, it may very well get the final stamp of approval in those final minutes before the clock starts.

After the flesh has been pressed, team executives slowly take their seats at their designated table. The matter of who sits at the table is a delicate decision-making process. There isn’t room for all executives and scouts, so the GM needs to make decisions as to who needs to be at the table from a workflow standpoint and who else gets to be there from a reward or status standpoint. I know of one team whose staffers won’t ever forget the time a scout took a seat at the table when it was intended for a senior management member of the club. As the Draft commenced, he refused to relinquish the chair. Not wanting to cause a scene, the management member retreated to the team’s suite. Let’s hope that scout enjoyed his view from the floor because rumor has it he wasn’t part of the organization on Day 2.

Seating drama aside, the first night of the Draft is showtime! It’s a made-for-television event, with a packed house of boisterous fans in attendance, team highlight videos on the screen and media interviews in every corner of the building. It feels like more should happen than 32 walks to the stage and 32 picks. Fans want blockbuster trades and pick movement around the board, but all too often the first round unfolds without drama. It’s so rare that a top-10 pick gets traded at the Draft that the event can sometimes fall a little flat, but your job as a team is to make the best possible pick for your franchise, not to deliver excitement to the fans.