Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back-to-back in the NHL Draft for USA

Somewhere Herb Brooks is smiling today.

For the first time ever, American born players were taken 1-2 in the NHL Draft. Not only that for back-to-back years Americans were taken number one. It's the first time that has ever happened. There were 10 Americans selected in the first round for back-to-back years. The most ever.

When the USA National Team Development Program was started in Ann Arbor about 10 years ago - people laughed and didn't think it could work. Since then the U.S. Junior team has won gold and more Americans are drafted higher and becoming better hockey players. Great job being done by Scott Monaghan and Ron Rolston. Have to give props to Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson and Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves that put the program on the map.

Funny part was that one of the Americans kids, who wasn't even born yet in 1980, idolizes Herb Brooks.

Somewhere Herbie is smiling.

By the way - if you ask me who the big winners were last night in the draft, I have three.

Third is San Jose. Doug Wilson came into the draft with NO first rounders and leaves with two - while trading away Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell. Great day for the Sharks.

Second - I love what St. Louis is building. They came away with three first round picks to add to Erik Johnson from last year. Hey St. Louis fans - you aren't far off from saying something that your President John Davidson made popular on MSG for the Rangers broadcast, "Oh....Baby!"

And to me, by total twist of fate and good fortune, the Pittsburgh Penguins ended up with Angelo Esposito. He's was the pre-season top player by Central Scouting and he was ranked eighth on the final list. Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette with the story of how Espo got to the Burgh. Give him some time with Sid the Kid, Malkin and Staal - wow, the firepower is insane.

By the way, anyone see any of my former cohorts from the Thrashers? No first round pick and barely any television time. Saw the backend of the table once as someone walked by on the way to making their pick. Don Waddell should have been the TSN commentator just to show us that he was there.

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