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BLOG: Hugh Weber was the first to know

Devils president was in the room when the balls were being drawn but after learning of the team's fortune he had to keep quiet

by Marc Ciampa /

TORONTO, ON - It's the lesser talked about part of the NHL Draft Lottery process. Before the cameras are turned on, before the cards are ordered and numbered, 15 team executives gather in a room somewhere else in the far reaches of the CBC building to observe the actual lottery as it happens. 

For the Devils, that team executive was president Hugh Weber. 

"The draft lottery room is a sequestered room that's far away from everything else. It's kind of a surreal experience because you're with the attorneys and the accountants. It's kind of like jury duty," Weber began with a chuckle. "I was super nervous actually as they started to go through the prep and loading the balls in one-by-one because there was a lot weighing on the draft."

A lottery machine has balls with the numbers 1 through 14 on it. Four balls are drawn randomly and there are 1001 different possible combinations that the four balls can make. If a team like the Devils has an 11.5% chance of winning, that means that there are 115 different four-ball combinations which would result in a New Jersey victory.

"You can't keep track of them. It's not like you're playing bingo or anything," said Weber. "Then those numbers came up and it said 'first pick goes to New Jersey Devils.' You kind of want to jump out of your skin but you're sitting around the room with 15 of your other colleagues and don't want to rub it in their face."

All Weber could do then was sit and wait. And wait. And wait. The draw began at 7:30 p.m. but it wasn't announced to the public until close to 9:00 p.m.

"We sat there for about an hour and a half which was the longest hour and a half of my life but great day for the organization and our fans," he said, describing the thoughts that were going through his mind. 

"It's a weird combination of emotions where you're super excited, you have this information and you want to start calling people but they've taken your phone, you want to start tweeting but they've taken your phone. You want to start sharing the good news but you can't."


Over the years there have been numerous tales of lucky items which have helped teams prevail at the Draft Lottery from a bracelet, a figurine or even lucky socks which begs the question, did the Devils have a lucky charm on this day? 

That anwer is yes, thanks to Scott O'Neil. 

"I'm not normally a superstitious person but Scott O'Neil our CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment gave me a crystal that he recently got in Sedona, Arizona. We were talking before I flew up here today and he said, 'what are you bringing to the draft for good luck?' I said, 'I kind of don't believe in that stuff' and he said, 'take the crystal, it'll work!'

"So I had the crystal in my pocket so props go to him for providing some charm to get us the number one pick."

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