One thought passed through the mind of Perry Kane on Friday night when he heard his son Evander announced as the fourth pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to the Atlanta Thrashers
"When Evander's name was called, I put my head down and thought about my father (Leonard) because he was a tough, hard man," Kane told NHL.com. "He always said to me, 'Boy, I don't know why you're playing that hockey because you're getting all broken up and you're never going to put food on the table and never going to amount to anything, so just quit.' But I just kept playing, and if my father could see this now, I know he'd have a huge smile on his face."
Kane, the No. 3-rated North American skater according to the NHL Central Scouting Service, became the highest drafted black player in draft history. The previous highest pick was Kyle Okposo
, who was chosen No. 7 by the New York Islanders
"I never really thought about it (being the highest black player) but it does mean something because, personally, I'm from a black community and grew up playing hockey with all black teams," Perry Kane said. "To see him drafted that high was something special. To me, it's like seeing (Barack) Obama enter the White House -- it's something I never thought I'd see. I knew it was always possible but until you see it happen, you don't think it could happen."
Not like Evander didn't earn it.
The 6-foot-1, 176-pound center finished first in scoring for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League this past season with 48 goals and 96 points -- the second-highest total in the WHL -- in 61 games. In 2007-08, his first WHL season, he was nominated for Rookie of the Year after scoring 24 goals and 41 points in 65 games.
"We did a lot of research and spent a lot of time with Evander and he was exceptional at the World Junior Championships as an underage player," Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said. "We kept a close eye on him in Vancouver and were very impressed. We think he's going to be a power forward and, eventually, a first-line player. We're real excited about adding him to our hockey club."
When informed that he had just made history by drafting Kane with the fourth overall pick, Waddell grinned.
"I'm really proud of the fact Evander is the highest-drafted African-Canadian player ever," Waddell said. "I didn't know that fact until just now, but Evander and his family should be very proud of him and his accomplishments as a hockey player. The future is so bright for him."
In addition to joining the Thrashers, Kane is also excited about the prospect of playing with Spencer Machacek
, a former Vancouver teammate. Machacek, who played two games with Atlanta in 2008-09, was drafted by the Thrashers in the third round in 2007.
"I think with him being part of that organization is going to help me going into camp since he'll be able to show me the ropes a little bit," Kane said. "At the same time, I'm going to be going into that camp trying to make the team right off hop -- that's going to be my goal.
"I think I'm only going to continue to get bigger and stronger and, hopefully, by the summer, I'll have put on enough weight," Kane added. "I think with my skill level, I might compete to make the team -- I should be successful."
Based on his relentless work ethic, Perry Kane is confident his son will be successful in the NHL.
"Evander has worked so hard and he has dedicated so much of his time and sacrificed so much to get to this point," he said. "I know he's going to be driven. I know he wants to be the best player possible and he's going to work and work and keep at it. Hopefully, I'll be able to watch him blossom and be the player I know he can be."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org