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Canadiens to host 2009 NHL draft

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MONTREAL (AP) -The Montreal Canadiens will host the 2009 NHL draft in their new home for the first time.

Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey and the NHL announced Tuesday that the Bell Centre will host the draft June 26-27, coinciding with the club's centennial celebration.

"In December 2009, the Canadiens will become the first professional hockey team to celebrate a century of history," Canadiens president Pierre Boivin said in a statement. "Thanks to the NHL, the Entry Draft is back in Montreal after 17 years. We are excited about this occasion, knowing the past history of the Draft and its origins in Montreal."

The draft has grown significantly since it was held in a hotel ballroom in Montreal in 1963. After 17 years of being conducted in hotels and the league offices in Montreal, the draft was held at the Montreal Forum, the Canadiens' old home, in 1980 in front of more than 2,000 spectators.

In 1985, the draft was held outside Montreal for the first time as a crowd of 7,000 filled the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Montreal also hosted the draft in 1986, 1988 and 1992.

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