It’s official – the Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh will be hosting the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center next summer.
"The NHL is extremely pleased to be able to host this outstanding event in an outstanding city and venue – CONSOL Energy Center,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at a media conference held in the arena Thursday, where Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse, Penguins GM Ray Shero and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl were also in attendance.
“The Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh have hosted many terrific NHL events, including last year's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and I have no doubt this will be another exciting endeavor.”
The draft is making its return to Western Pennsylvania after a 15-year hiatus (Pittsburgh hosted it for the first time back in 1997 at Civic Arena) thanks in large part to the Penguins’ beautiful new building, which opened its doors last August after 12 years of hard work and labor.
The luxurious, state-of-the-art venue is the perfect place to showcase one of the league’s signature events, where the stars of tomorrow take the next step in their careers. It’s a day that every teenager who is selected will never, ever forget.
Personnel from all 30 NHL clubs will be on hand to select the sport’s best young prospects from all over the world, while thousands of people – including the players, their families, agents and advisors, international hockey media and fans of the sport – will also be in town.
“Really, it is a hockey convention,” Shero explained. “What you’re going to see here is future star players, broadcasters, general managers and scouts. It’s also a great day for the fans. They can see the next up-and-coming players and interact with a lot of different people.
“The draft for the Pittsburgh Penguins, no secret – it’s really been a franchise saver in 1984 with Mario Lemieux being drafted and of course, in 2005, with Sidney Crosby
Next summer’s draft is the NHL’s latest big event to come to Pittsburgh, as the city held a fantastic weeklong celebration of hockey leading up to the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day.
“Pittsburgh again will become the center of the hockey universe for one of the most important weekends on the NHL calendar, as our teams select the next generation of NHL stars,” Morehouse said.
“Much as we did with the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, we look forward to turning the week leading up to the draft into a celebration of hockey – especially youth hockey here in Pittsburgh.”
The community’s response to the activities surrounding such events has been nothing short of awesome – and a symptom of the incredible growth of the game of hockey in Western Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh saw a record five players who came up through the local amateur hockey system selected at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, four of those coming within the first 63 picks.
Forward J.T. Miller became the highest-drafted Pittsburgh amateur hockey player in NHL Draft history when the New York Rangers made him the 15th overall selection of the 2011 Draft. He was followed by goaltender John Gibson (Pittsburgh, PA, 39th by Anaheim), forward Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, PA, 43rd by Chicago) and forward Vincent Trocheck (Pittsburgh, PA, 64th by Florida).
“The area’s impact on our draft is remarkable, as is the impact of the draft on our league – which is why we’re so pleased to have this event here at CONSOL Energy Center,” Bettman said.