Chicago, IL – “The Youth do not know enough to be prudent and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve generation after generation.” – Pearl S. Buck
A more accurate sentiment could not be true or a more applicable one to the 2011 NHL Draft. The hopes of teams, players, families, fans, cities and a league are on the shoulders of the young draftees to propel the NHL brand into the mainstream of sports, their team to championships, cities to exaltations and players to pinnacles of achievements. Franchises are always in search of who will be the next Wayne Gretzky or can there ever be another Guy Lafleur or Mario Lemieux? There is no question that the injection of talented youth can revitalize an organization. You need to look no further than the past two Stanley Cup Champions to see the rejuvenation of a team. The Chicago Blackhawks turned a dying organization into a fun, cup contending team with the additions of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews or the Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron & their latest Tyler Seguin all playing significant roles in their teams success all of these relatively young players.
The hope of all organizations is that their selections will all turn out to be the catapults for their franchises to vault their teams to
the Stanley Cup. All the potential and hockey skills in one room is somewhat overwhelming and exciting at the same time. In a two day event the future of certain organizations are turned not only on who they select with their top picks but also who they choose with intangible qualities that are hard to identify and quantify. Leadership, character, poise & determination are not so easily measured in a combine. Every sports organization is looking for not only their physical skills being at the highest of levels or the potential to reach the highest of levels but they are also looking for all of those intangibles and those maybe the tipping scales of which teams choose which candidates. These qualities are also not confined to just first round picks. There are so many current NHL players that were not chosen in the 1st round of the draft and today anyone would jump on.
This year the dreams of young men were realized in Minneapolis, MN at the Xcel Energy Center. Not all of them will reach their potential or the expectations of their teams but some of them will not only meet the expectations but exceed the expectations of their teams and maybe even their own expectations. It is those young men we salute because they maybe even inspire us as well to go beyond our own expectations. I’m sure only in his dreams did Patrick Kane ever think he would score the game winning goal to bring his organization a Stanley Cup Championship after a 49 yr draught. Nor I’m sure did goalie Tim Thomas think after being drafted in the 200+ range that the road would lead him to having one of the most outstanding playoff goalie records in NHL history & being the Conn Smyth and Vezina Trophy winner. They bring hope to us all, that if they can achieve their dreams maybe we can too.
Drafts represent hope, promise, determination, skill, sacrifices & rewards. Which team benefits the most sometimes takes years to assess sometimes not that long it all depends on many factors. What is certain is the draft also represents change, and the organizations and their GM that understands and adapt to change best will usually be the ones hoisting multiple cups at the
end of the day. The draft also is a forum for trades where teams can turn their weakness into strengths by exchanging players or players for picks. Again trades are not known success until down the road we can see if they were good or bad moves. All we know
is it is change again and one can only hope that the change for a team will be for the better or that it provides us with a great story of a Stanley Cup Champion. How the story unfolds is part of the fun and the excitement of young men’s dreams being realized are what organizations are built and sustained on and here’s hoping that each NHL team in the end has a good story to tell courtesy of the 2011 NHL draft.