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2015 NHL Draft Weekend

The 2015 NHL draft is now in the books.  For 211 hockey players from around the world their dreams of playing in the NHL are one step closer to reality.  Among the chosen ones are five members of the Regina Pats.

Sergey Zborovskiy – 3rd Round, 79th Overall by the New York Rangers

Austin Wagner – 4th Round, 99th Overall by the Los Angeles Kings

Jesse Gabrielle – 4th Round, 105th Overall by the Boston Bruins

Connor Hobbs – 5th Round, 143rd Overall by the Washington Capitals

Colby Williams – 6th Round, 173rd Overall by the Washington Capitals

For them, like all the players, being drafted is a validation of their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this point.  Much like the hashtag Gamechangers that we use at the Regina Pats, being drafted is a Gamechanger for these players.  

For them, their summers are now going to be a lot different.  Their off-season workouts, their diets, and everything else they do will be focused on getting ready for their first NHL training camps.  That will mark the next stage in trying to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NHL. 

Some incites as I put the wraps on Draft Weekend 2015.  As someone who experienced his first ever professional draft, I was struck by a couple of things.  First, one of the most interesting aspects of what I experienced was what went on before the draft.  Heading in to Friday night and Saturday a lot of the discussion on the Thursday was about the number of possible trades that could happen and eventually did. 

Second, it’s no secret that south Florida is not exactly a hockey hotbed…pardon the pun.  However, it was 90 degrees for what it’s worth.  The day I check in to my hotel, ahead of me were two guys decked out in Edmonton Oilers merchandise from head-to-toe.  Of course, when I asked why they were there, they said they did not want to miss seeing their team draft the first overall pick in Connor McDavid.  But, beyond those two diehards, there were a number of times just walking about that I saw people who had some piece of clothing on which showed their NHL allegiances.  The BB & T Centre was almost full on the Friday night as well, which made for a great atmosphere.  It was just like what you probably saw on TV. 

My final observation from Florida and probably the most humbling one for me was the chance to be there and witness the reaction from three of our five drafted players that were in Sunshine State.  I can only imagine what it was like for them to hear their names called.

Connor Hobbs said he didn’t even believe it as first.  The team usually says where the player is from and then their name.  For Connor, the Capitals just said his name and he wasn’t even sure it was him.  Austin Wagner said that moment is almost too hard to recall because of the emotion he felt hearing his name.  For Jesse Gabrielle, he thinks he blacked out for a second…kidding of course, when he heard his name.  For Colby Williams, who was drafted in the sixth round, he didn’t even know he was drafted.  Colby was participating in a Spartan Race in the Edmonton area on Saturday and it wasn’t till he finished and picked up his cell phone that he knew what had happened.    

No matter their perspective, it may be cliché to say but it is the truth that this will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives.  Whether they make it to the NHL or not is almost irrelevant as just being drafted is something that less than half a percent of the population will ever experience.  To walk down to the draft floor after hearing their name, to slip their suit jackets off, put on that jersey and hat is one of those moments they will remember and share for years to come, as they should.  

We will see you at the rink in 2015. 

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