VANCOUVER - Tomas Tatar's first-ever trip to Montreal was a memorable one to say the least.
It was 10 years ago that the Slovak forward journeyed to the 2009 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre, which resulted in his being selected in the second round, 60th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Tell Tatar that a whole decade has gone by since his name was called by then-general manager Ken Holland and company, and his reaction really is priceless.
"I'm getting old," cracked Tatar, who is just 28 years of age and has six full NHL seasons under his belt between Detroit, Vegas and Montreal. "I would say that it flew by. It's hard to believe that it's already been 10 years."
Five-hundred and seven NHL games later, Tatar says the events of that memorable Friday and Saturday were "all a big blur" because of his anticipation at the prospect of being plucked from the crowd at any moment.
"I was so excited to be at the Bell Centre for the first time. You're there just waiting to find out who is going to pick you. I was a little nervous. To be honest, I don't even remember where I went for dinner," joked Tatar, who entered the Draft as the 14th ranked European skater, according to the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau. "I was so excited about what was happening there. It was amazing."
When Tatar's dream of being selected finally came true, he remembers being completely awestruck.
"I was in shock. Everyone is shaking your hand, but I was just trying to stay calm and take in everything that was happening. It was a pretty special moment," he recalled. "I remember walking by the table where the Red Wings had their headquarters. I knew most of them from the pre-scouts and the pre-Draft meetings, but to go down and be accepted into their organization was special."
No doubt sharing that experience with one of his biggest fans made it all the more unforgettable.
"My dad came with me to Montreal. It was a special time with him," revealed Tatar, whose father, Jan, passed away in January 2014. "It was a special moment for a lot of guys whose families were there, too."
With that memory in mind, the Dubnica nad váhom native is proud to ply his trade in the building where he realized a childhood goal.
"It was definitely a special Draft in Montreal. To see those people and their passion for hockey was incredible. I'm not sure how many people go to other drafts, but that atmosphere when Montreal was picking in the first round was pretty amazing. The chanting was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it."