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The Official Site of the New York Islanders

Draft Day Memories

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
John Tavares

Leading up to the draft were you at all nervous or were you excited? What were the feelings you had?
“I was really anxious. It was a long-time coming. There was a lot of hype for it. I was just excited to finally fulfill a dream and to be a part of an NHL franchise. I was lucky enough to be drafted to Long Island.”

Was there a lot of pressure being ranked at the top of the Central Scouting rankings?
“I knew there was a chance that I would be drafted number one, but my year there was a lot of speculation between me, (Matt) Duchene and (Victor) Hedman. I felt that I put myself in the best situation possible to prove to every team that I worthy of being selected first. I worked hard all season, but I was really just excited to get my opportunity. Obviously, being selected number one is a very special thing, so I was lucky.”

What was your family's reaction?
“I didn’t know at the time because I was walking up to the stage, but I found out later that my mom shed some tears. She’s a tough lady. I’ve never seen her like that before so they were very emotional, very proud and very happy for me.”

Travis Hamonic
What were you doing on draft night? How did you get the news?
“My draft experience was a little different then most kids who attend the draft. I decided to stay home with my family and friends. I remember watching the draft being very nervous, watching as picks went by and getting more and more excited and anticipating getting selected. Many interviews leading up to the draft with different teams, wondering which ones you made a good impression on."

When you heard your name, how did that make you feel?
The feeling when my mom saw my name pop up was one of the best feelings in the world. You realize your very grateful and thankful. I was thankful to God and everyone who helped me along the way get there. I was very happy to also be selected to such a great and historic franchise like the Islanders. It was one of the best days of my life and i was very happy to be surrounded by family and friends when it happened.”

Michael Grabner
After you heard your name called by Vancouver, selecting you 14th overall, was it intimidating walking onto the stage?

“It was a little bit intimidating, but at the same time, it was really exciting. So it went by really quick. We were really happy and excited. I just went on stage and it was kind of all a blur. I didn’t really think about it.”

Tell me about your experience at the draft behind the scenes, all the interviews, etc. Were you overwhelmed? Did you enjoy it?
“I enjoyed it. It was a little overwhelming being so young and meeting some of these guys, but obviously it’s a dream to be drafted. After the first couple guys went, we were just sitting there in the stands waiting to hear our names called. It was an exciting day and one that I will never forget.”

Matt Moulson
Why did you choose not go go to the draft? Did you watch it? If so, when you heard your name called, what was your reaction? If not, how did you find out?

“Well I didn't attend to draft for two reasons. 1) I wasn't at the draft because I was not projected to go in the first couple rounds and 2) I was playing lacrosse at the time and had obligations there.  I was actually at lacrosse practice when the draft was going on and was drafted while I was practicing."

So how did you find out you were drafted?
"I got a call when I got home from Pittsburgh saying they selected me in the 9th round. I was honored to be selected and knew it would be a long road to the NHL, especially from the 9th round.”

Kevin Poulin
Who went to the draft with you?
“It was great. That year, the Draft was just two hours from my house, a short drive from Montreal to Ottawa. All my family was there. The first day was great. I knew I wasn’t going to go in the first round, but it was good just to see the process. I will never forget that day."

What is one of the stand-out moments from your draft?
“When they called my name and I had to walk down and meet everyone at the table, that was the biggest memory I have. Garth Snow, Sudsie (Sudarshan Maharaj), Cairnsy (Eric Cairns) was there. It was great meeting them."

How did it feel to put on the jersey for the first time?
“It was great. I’m from Montreal and hockey is really huge there. When you’re a little kid and you play hockey, you just want to play in the NHL. Getting drafted and putting on the jersey, it was like I was just one step closer to my dream.”

Matt Martin
Where did you watch the draft?
“I was at home watching the draft with my family, but when I got picked, they were actually interviewing the kid that got picked before me. So I didn’t even know I got picked until the phone rang and it was Garth Snow. I never spoke to him before so I didn’t really know who it was, but you can hear that deep accent and you kind of know.”

What was your family's initial reaction?
“My mom started crying right away. My dad was really happy for me. My brother and sister were there too. It was a dream come true. You work so hard your whole life and your parents pull for you, my brother was always there for me and working out with me and they all want to see you accomplish your dreams. It was a good day for the whole family because it was a great moment and it’s not something that comes around too often.”

When did you meet Garth Snow and Charles Wang for the first time?

“I met them for the first time at mini camp. I spoke to Garth on the phone as soon as I got drafted and he welcomed me to the organization and said that he expects big things from me. I finally got to meet them at camp.”

After you hung up the phone, did the word "drafted" sink in right away?
“It’s a dream come true. As a little kid, it’s something you dream about. I saw a stat that said under one percent of hockey players actually make it to the NHL. So when you think of it that way, it’s pretty amazing. It was a great feeling. It’s the first step, you can have fun with it, but then you have to focus because you still have a team to make. So you enjoy it for the time being, but you have to move on pretty quick too.”

BOSTON, MA - 1970's: Clark Gillies #9 of the New York Islanders checks Terry O'Reilly #24 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Clark Gillies
Do you remember the draft? What was that day like? Was it as much of a production as it is today?
“It was in Montreal, so I flew there and I stayed at the Queen Elizabeth hotel. I roomed with Dougie Risebrough, who played many years for the Montreal Canadiens. We had the same agent so we roomed together. It was definitely done up a little bit different than it is now. I do remember having my picture taking with Mr. Torrey and Al Arbour. I was wearing a bright blue and yellow plaid suit, which was very stylish in 1974. I also toured around with Bill and Al for a couple days, met some of the scouts and was able to put my jersey to take my photo with them.”

Were you at all nervous?
“I don’t remember being really nervous about the whole thing, to be honest with you. I found out long before the draft that Bill (Torrey) said that if I were still there that they were going to take me. So I kind of knew it was going to be the Islanders or Atlanta. And the next year I was probably going to play in the NHL and going from junior to professional hockey. So do I remember being nervous? Not really. I was 20-years-old. It was just very exciting the way it all unfolded. Once I got drafted, that’s when the nerves set it because I went to training camp and was wondering, ‘Will I be there?’ That was the nervous part.”

BOSTON, MA - 1970's: Bob Nystrom #23 of the New York Islanders skates towards the puck against the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bob Nystrom
Do you remember the draft? What was that day like?
“I remember vividly. I was living in a town called Kamloops, British Columbia and I wasn’t all that excited about the Draft. I was told so many times that I wasn’t going to make it so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was working framing houses with a couple of buddies of mine and we were out of town quite a ways on the night of the draft so we really didn’t pay much attention to it at all. On the way home, I stopped and was going to have a beer at the bar, but my father called me and told me that I was drafted. I said, ‘By who?’ and he said, ‘The New York Islanders.’ So I said, ‘Who?’ and he repeated himself again. Then an agent called and told me they wanted to bring me down to meet Bill Torrey and then I thought about what kind of car I was going to buy (Laughs). I was pretty happy about it.”

How did you feel when you were selected in the third round, 33rd overall?
“I was pretty excited about it. There was a couple of guys on the team that I played on in Calgary and I thought they were going to go ahead of me, but I ended up being the first one drafted off our team. So I was pretty excited about that.”
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