Like management and scout-types from all around the National Hockey League, as well as prospects and their families, the Stanley Cup flew into Los Angeles to witness the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, held over two days: Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26.
|Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman with father Scotty Bowman sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup.
(Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The day is life-changing for so many young men. Several will hear their name called by one of the thirty NHL teams, and know that their welcome to the world of hockey may very well be mere months away. Nattily dressed and surrounded by those they love most, those lucky enough to have their name called embrace those seated around them, and then make the seemingly long parade from seat to stage, greeted by their new colleagues. Pull on a jersey, affix a cap over their newly-shorn head and then pose for the first of what will happily be an endless myriad of photographs.
Sadly, others with dreams of hearing their name called will leave the arena bitterly disappointed. Some will return to the draft in 2011 and relive the exercise all over again, hopefully with different results. Others, without that option, will re-jig their life-plan, knowing that their path to the NHL will be less certain, but holding onto the stories of Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Adam Oates and Steve Thomas who not only reached 'The Show,' but excelled once given the opportunity.
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The NHL Entry Draft was conducted in California for the first time in 2010, and the Los Angeles Kings were gracious hosts. The Staple Center was prepared and welcomed thousands from the hockey world anxious to get the festivities underway.
The Stanley Cup was displayed in the concourse of the Staple Center, joined by a three-tiered display of the other NHL merit awards. While attendees were focused on the draft, their attention was diverted by the magnificent Stanley Cup.
Photos were snapped and dreams re-ignited. There's not a boy sitting in the stands waiting to hear his name who hasn't dreamed of one day lifting the championship chalice over his head in triumph.
|Members of the Chicago Blackhawks scouting staff sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup during NHL Draft weekend.
(Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was tagged as the Taylor and Tyler Show (or, to some, the Tyler and Taylor Show).
Taylor Hall brought forward an extraordinary Ontario Hockey League career that culminated in a season with 40 goals and 66 assists for 106 points through the regular season, and 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 19 playoff contests. Taylor led the Windsor Spitfires to a second consecutive Memorial Cup championship, winning a second straight Memorial Cup MVP honour in the process.
Tyler Seguin collected an identical 106 points playing for the Plymouth Whalers. As a result, Taylor and Tyler shared the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL's leading scorers. His point total was comprised of 48 goals and 58 assists. In 9 playoff games, he matched 5 goals with 5 assists. Seguin was awarded the Red Tilson Memorial Award as the OHL's most valuable player.
Who would be chosen first overall? The Edmonton Oilers held the first selection, and after a 30th place finish in 2009-10, they were looking to restore the franchise to glory. It was the first time the Oilers had held the first NHL overall pick, and GM Steve Tambellini didn't tip his hand as to his choice, although candidly, he truly couldn't lose. Taylor? Tyler? Tyler? Taylor?
On Thursday, June 24, the night before the first day of the draft, both young men attended the premiere of 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' at the Nokia Plaza in L.A. Striding down the black carpet (it is a vampire movie, after all) in the company of Jennifer Love Hewitt as well as Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, stars of the film, Taylor and Tyler could only laugh when they recounted that photographers, not recognizing either of them, told them to get out of the way.
|Members of the LA Kings Ice Crew pose for a photo with the Stanley Cup during draft weekend in Los Angeles.
(Miragh Bitove/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Friday, June 25 was Day One of the Draft. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, suffering from a cold, stepped up to the microphone and said, "Welcome to the Staple Center for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft." He congratulated families, friends and coaches for readying prospects for this day. Wrapping up his salutation, Bettman announced, "The first selection in the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft belongs to the Edmonton Oilers."
Anticipation was at its peak and the tension, palpable. Steve Tambellini, the Oilers' GM, congratulated the City of Los Angeles, remarking that he was pleased to see hockey so alive and well. Then, after gulping in a breath, he leaned in and said, "I'm extremely excited to select, from the Windsor Spitfires, Taylor Hall!"
|Members of the LA Kings Ice Crew pose for a photo in front of the National Hockey League trophies during draft weekend in Los Angeles. (Miragh Bitove/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The mystery was over.
Tambellini told the television audience that the decision came down to selecting the best player on the best team, and that "I haven't met a more competitive person than this man."
Hall, who was born in Calgary and grew up a Flames fan, will now have a new Alberta allegiance.
Boston's Bruins, holding the second overall selection, received an outstanding consolation prize in Tyler Seguin.
The first round of the Entry Draft went as follows:
#3, Florida Panthers selected Erik Gudbranson from Kingston of the OHL.
#4, the Columbus BlueJackets chose Ryan Johansen from Portland of the WHL.
#5, the Islanders plucked Nino Niederreiter from Portland.
#6, Tampa Bay picked Prince George's Brett Connolly.
#7, the Hurricanes selected Jeff Skinner from the Kitchener Rangers.
#8, Atlanta chose Alexander Burmitsov from Barrie's Colts.
#9, the Wild of Minnesota picked Mikael Granlund from FK Helsinki.
#10, it was Dylan McIlraith of Moose Jaw chosen by the New York Rangers.
#11, Dallas Stars plucked Jack Campbell, a goalie, from the US Under-18 squad.
#12, the Ducks selected Cam Fowler from Windsor. (No Ducks/Fowl jokes allowed).
#13, the Coyotes chose Brandon Gormley from Moncton of the QMJHL.
#14, St Louis picked Jaden Schwartz from tri-City of the USHL.
#15, the host L.A. Kings took Derek Forbort from the USA's Under-18 team.
#16, Vladimir Tarasenko was chosen by St. Louis from Novosibirsk.
#17, the Avalanche selected Joey Hishon from Owen Sound of the OHL.
#18, Nashville picked Austin Watson from the Peterborough Petes.
#19, it was Florida taking Minnesota's 'Mr. Hockey,' Nick Bjugstad, from Blaine.
#20 went to Pittsburgh, who selected Beau Bennett from Penticton of the BCHL.
#21, the Red Wings chose Riley Sheahan from Notre Dame.
#22, the Montreal Canadiens grabbed Jarred Tinordi from the U.S. Under-18s.
#23, Buffalo got Mark Pysyk from Edmonton of the Western Hockey League.
#24, the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks picked Kevin Hayes from Nobles and Greenough High School.
#25, the Panthers received their third selection of this year's first round, and chose Quinton Howden from Moose Jaw.
#26, Washington chose Evgeny Kuznetsov from Chelyabinsk.
#27, the Coyotes picked Mark Visentin from the Niagara IceDogs.
#28, Charlie Coyle of South Shore in the EJHL was selected by the San Jose Sharks.
#29, Anaheim received Emerson Etem, a Southern California native, from Medicine Hat.
And at #30, the New York Islanders rounded out the first round selections by choosing Brock Nelson from Warroad.
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Rounds Two through Seven of the Entry Draft were completed on Saturday, June 26. After the draft, the Blackhawks held a reception at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Los Angeles. Included were team management, scouts and their new draft picks. Chicago was delighted with the rewards of the draft, choosing Ludvig Rensfeldt from Brynas in Sweden, Justin Holl from Omaha of the USHL, Kent Simpson from the WHL's Everett Silvertips, Stephen Johns from the U.S. Under-18 Team, Joakim Norstrom from Elitserien in Sweden, Rob Flick of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the OHL, Mirko Hofflin from the Mannheim Juniors, Nick Mattson from Indiana of the USHL and Macmillian Carruth from the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, as well as Kevin Hayes, their first round selection.
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