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Roenick expects fans will enjoy Fantasy Draft

by Mike G. Morreale /
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jeremy Roenick believes there's nothing to be ashamed about being the last player plucked during Friday's anticipated NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco (TSN/RDS in Canada; VERSUS in the U.S., 8 p.m. ET) at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Still, he realizes it isn't something on anyone's wish list.
"I guess you can look at it as, 'Yeah, I'm the last player picked of the best players in the world,' " Roenick told "It will be a very uncomfortable situation for that player because all the guys will be sitting up there looking at them, looking at you, and you are that person.
"I don't care what the situation is, when you have a schoolyard atmosphere, you feel bad for that guy sitting as the last one and who's going to take him. That becomes pretty humbling. I'm sure there are some bets going on in Vegas on who's going to be that last one standing and you don't want to be that guy."
While Roenick refused to speculate on who he thought that player might be, he's very much looking forward to the reaction when all is said and done. "JR" will be joining the NHL Network on-air team throughout All-Star Weekend. 

"I guess you can look at it as, 'Yeah, I'm the last player picked of the best players in the world.' It will be a very uncomfortable situation for that player because all the guys will be sitting up there looking at them, looking at you, and you are that person. " -- Jeremy Roenick on being the last player picked at the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft

"The Fantasy Draft is going to be interesting for a couple of reasons," Roenick said. "It'll bring out a little more of the guys' personality away from the rink. We'll learn how they co-mingle away from the locker room together, because that's a big part of professional life -- the joking, the teasing that goes around. And you'll see a lot of that in this kind of scenario. You'll also have the ego aspect. Who's going to go before who, how can that guy go before me? Is it going to ratchet up the excitement and will there be more jawing, back and forth? I think a lot of this is going to be good because you get really cool scenarios. Who's that first pick going to be? Is it (Alex) Ovechkin? Is it going to be (Steven) Stamkos?"
Roenick and his on-camera colleague, Kevin Weekes, will have an opportunity to talk strategy with All-Star captains Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom before they actually put on their GM hats before the start of the 36-player, 18-round draft.
"It's always an uncomfortable situation for everyone sitting in that line because you're waiting for your name to be called and as that line dwindles, your confidence diminishes and that's a pretty humbling situation to be in," Roenick said. "In an All-Star situation like this, I think there is a little bit of solace in the fact that you're in an All-Star Game, playing in the best sport in the world and among the best players in the world and, well, got picked last."
Roenick knows what his draft strategy would be.
"It would be easy," he said. "I'd get as many of the top goal-scoring forwards right off the bat. Defensemen and goalies aren't going to help. I would try to get goalies a little later because goalies are going to be shelled, big time. Then I'd go for the offensive defensemen."
He'd also make certain of one other thing.
"I'd do everything I possibly could to make sure the Sedins (Henrik and Daniel) are split up," he said, chuckling. "Hey, there are a lot of things that could play out that would make for really good TV."
Roenick, a nine-time All-Star, won't soon forget his first ever All-Star Game at the old Chicago Stadium on Jan. 19, 1991 -- to this day the loudest building he has ever been in.
"My All-Star career started out probably as good as it could possibly be in Chicago, at my home arena," he said. "Sitting in my own stall in Chicago Stadium right during the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm). There was actually talk of the game being canceled, which was scary for me. I remember the national anthem and the way that all the fans really came out in support. Not so much for the game, but for the whole war itself. The amount of flags, signs … it was as loud and I will never forget it. It was the loudest I've ever heard a building in my life since then and to this day. It was so impressive."
Roenick knows how many of rookies are feeling. After all, he participated with many of the League's all-time greats as a youngster at the All-Star Game during his career.
"I had an opportunity to sit right next to Wayne Gretzky, which was pretty awe-inspiring for me at the time," he said. "So many guys I idolized growing up, and they were all in one room. It was very humbling, for sure. Nervous wasn't even the word -- it was more fear. I was among greatness. Here's a young kid from Boston, only two years removed from high school, with future Hall of Famers. It was very scary, but to have that experience is a priceless opportunity and I can understand how some of these kids are feeling today."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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