While most of the prospects selected on the second day of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft wore generic team sweaters with the number 08 -- for 2008 -- on them, Philip McRae
had a little something special waiting for him when St. Louis took him in the second round Saturday.
McRae was on the nameplate of his sweater, which bore the No. 17 instead of the traditional 08. The No. 17 was a tribute to Philip's father, Basil, a long-time Blues forward who now works for the team as a scout.
"It's pretty cool they did that," Philip McRae
said. "I'm thrilled to go to St. Louis, it's my hometown. I grew up there, played all my minor hockey there. So, it's pretty neat."
It's neat all-around for the McRae family, as well as the Blues. The son got a nice bear hug from his old man.
"I really didn't say too much, just gave him a hug, told him I was proud of him," said Basil McRae
. "He's worked hard. It's a big day for our family. I think he's a great player and an even better kid. I think most people in St. Louis who have coached him, his neighbors and his teammates -- they'll tell you he's a great kid. He'll work hard and we are proud of him."
, in his first year as an amateur scout for the team, was one of the premier tough guys in the NHL during the 1980s, totaling 2,453 penalty minutes in 576 games for seven teams during 16 seasons, including parts of four in St. Louis.
It was during that time, which spanned 1992-93 to 1995-96, that Philip McRae
started playing hockey.
Rather than emulate his father on the ice, Philip patterned his game on two Blues superstars of the day, Brett Hull
and Adam Oates
. As a result, he developed into a scorer while playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program.
From there, Philip moved to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had 18 goals and 46 points in 66 games this past season.
"He's got a better everything (than me)," said Basil. "They say hockey is 50 percent mental and 50 percent being mental. I had the being mental down; he's got the mental part. He's got a lot of skill, always played as a skill player, and now he's got size. Saying that, he has played pretty tough this year, a lot more aggressive, but I think his game, he's a playmaker, makes great passes, got good size and he's got a great shot, just has to use it more."
What sealed the deal for the Blues was what McRae did at the Under-18 World Championship in April, when he had three goals, six points and a plus-4 rating to help the American side win a bronze medal.
"He didn't have a great season last year in London, but he had the good tournament," said Basil McRae. "I think he'll have a great couple years in London and really develop and be ready to turn some heads in a couple years."
To get there, he'll have to improve his skating, which Basil McRae has no doubt his son will do.
"I'm not making any guarantees on hockey, but I know he's a great kid and he's a hard worker," said Basil McRae. "I don't think you'll ever have to worry about his work ethic."
And if that hard work leads him to the NHL, Basil said Philip can wear whatever number he likes.
"He's never worn 17, he's always worn a number with a 9 in it," said Basil. "He's always been his own player, his own man, so I'm sure if and when it comes to his time to play for the Blue Notes, he'll have some say in what number he wears. I'm OK with that. He isn't the type of player I am. I think it's important that he have his own identity."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.