|Justin Williams was selected with the Flyers' first round pick, 28th overall, in 2000.
With the NHL Entry Draft quickly approaching, LAKings.com sat down with newly acquired Kings forward Justin Williams
as he looked back at being drafted as Philadelphia's 1st round choice, 28th overall, in 2000.
LAKings.com: Tell us about what the draft was like for you. Did you bring your family?
Justin Williams: The draft is a very exciting and nerve wracking time for an 18-year old hockey player. Depending on the rankings it depends on how many family members you are going to bring with you. You probably don’t want to bring everybody if you don’t know if you are going to get drafted or sometimes guys choose not to bring that many people with them. I had a great draft day experience. My draft was in Calgary and I brought my mom and dad, my agent and a couple of my aunts and uncles who live around the Calgary area and out in Western Canada. My sister was there too, so I had a pretty good contingent of people.
LAKings.com: Walk us through a timeline of the draft.
Justin Williams: The day before the draft, you are in meetings, meeting with the people who might draft you, the GMs and stuff. So that is a pretty fun and nerve wracking experience talking to everyone while they are trying to get a feel for you of what kind of person you are. Because most of them really know what kind of player you are, so they just want to get to know the person a little bit better through these interviews they conduct. So I did a few of those the day before the draft. Then once draft day comes it is really just a waiting game while you watch everyone scurrying around the floor.
LAKings.com: Did you have any idea when your name would be called?
Justin Williams: Almost all of the top players know where they are going for the most part, but once you are towards the middle or late in the first round, like I was, then you don’t really know. Really the start of your hockey career begins there, although it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be an NHL hockey player just by being drafted, but it is a step in the right direction and you get closer to an idea of where you might be playing.
LAKings.com: What was it like when Philadelphia called your name?
Justin Williams: I don’t think very many people were enamored with Philadelphia at that time, because when Bobby Clark came up to the podium, before you even knew that Philadelphia was picking he was getting booed so loudly that you could hardly hear him. I think that he wanted to get it over with, so he just said very quickly, “With the 28th pick, Philadelphia selects from the Ontario Hockey League Justin Williams.” It was just like that, over in an instant. You hear your name and you look around, see your family and ask “was that it, did they really just pick me?” You stand up, you go up to the podium and feel the whole world is looking at you and that is it. You get whisked away, you do interviews and your professional career starts.
LAKings.com: So after the podium you are in interviews the rest of the day?
Justin Williams: I just remember doing interviews, meeting with the management and they talked to me a little bit about what they expected from me in the NHL and what happens next. They grab you and say “good luck, now here is what we would like you to do.” Little things like that to help you out. Then after a couple hours of that, draft day is over.
LAKings.com: What was the most nerve wracking part of the whole experience?
Justin Williams: I assumed I was going to get drafted and I assumed it was going to be in the first round, but you never know where you are going to end up. Sometimes guys are ranked 50th overall and go 10th overall. You just never know what a specific team thinks of you, because if they like you then they are going to pick you. I think that the nerves were more about wondering where I was going to go, not if I was going to go.
LAKings.com: Were you happy with how it turned out?
Justin Williams: I think any 18-year old was going to be happy regardless of who picks them. There are not many guys who come to the draft and pick and choose where they are going to go or are not happy where they ended up. Your dream is slowly, slowly being realized as you take that first step to becoming an NHL player like you always wanted to be.