NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (December 4, 2009) – For the first time in its 46-year history, the NHL Entry Draft will be held in the State of California. The Los Angeles Kings and STAPLES Center will host the two-day event on June 25-26, 2010, the National Hockey League announced today.
Round one, on Friday, June 25, will be broadcast live by Versus in the US and TSN and RDS in Canada as well as NHL Radio, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. NHL Network (U.S. and Canada) will carry rounds 2-7 on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.
"It has been terrific to watch the continuing evolution of the Los Angeles Kings, as well as the growth of hockey in the state of California,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “With local youth programs producing an increasing number of elite players, we are extremely pleased to bring this showcase event to California for the first time."
“This is a very exciting and very special announcement,” said Kings President of Business Operations, Luc Robitaille, who was originally selected by the Kings in the ninth-round (171st overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. “The Draft is the place so many young players in our sport begin their professional careers and next summer, the future of the NHL will be on display in Los Angeles. With the success of L.A. LIVE and our new incredible hotel opening in February, it is the ideal setting for yet another major sports and entertainment event to come to downtown Los Angeles. It is also another example that Los Angeles is a thriving hockey market with knowledgeable fans.”
The timing couldn’t be more appropriate as the Kings are enjoying a renaissance based largely on the foundation provided by astute drafting and the acquisition of talented young players selected high in Entry Drafts by other organizations. The Kings have seven first-round draft picks on their current roster – including Ryan Smyth (sixth overall, 1994), Alex Frolov (20th overall, 2000), Justin Williams (28th overall, 2000), captain Dustin Brown (13th overall, 2003), Jack Johnson (third overall, 2005), Anze Kopitar (11th overall, 2005) and Drew Doughty (second overall, 2008).
Defenseman Jonathon Blum, a native of Long Beach, California, and member of the 2007 Memorial Cup-champion Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, became the first California-born and trained player to ever be selected in the first round (2007). Blum, claimed by the Nashville Predators with the 23rd overall pick, played his youth hockey with the California Wave before moving to the WHL.
Since 2001, 23 players have been drafted from the state of California, including nine in the last three draft years. Only five states in the U.S. have had more - Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan and Illinois.
Long Beach, California native Emerson Etem is ranked fourth by NHL Central Scouting on its "Top 25 Western Hockey League Players to Watch" list for the 2010 Draft. Etem, a speedy center with great puckhandling skills, is second on his team -- Medicine Hat Tigers -- in goal scoring with 20.
For historical information and past draft selections, visit www.nhl.com/draft