by Dan Blackburn
Waiting in the stands for my name to be called was both nerve-wracking and exciting. As one team passed on me, I would try to envision what it would be like to play in the next city that was making their selection. Florida, Anaheim, Minnesota, Montreal, Columbus, Chicago … New York. I had a talk with the Rangers a few weeks prior to the Draft and I knew they were very interested in obtaining a goaltender, so it was certainly a possibility.
Then it happened. As the Rangers announced my name as the 10th overall pick, my family, who had made the trip to Florida with me, congratulated me as I made my way to the stage. I felt extremely honored and excited to be chosen by the Rangers and to now be a part of such a historic franchise. It’s funny – I was already excited about the city although I had never been there before. The closest I ever got to New York was a trip to New Jersey during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals as part of the NHL Top Prospects meetings. I wanted to spend some time in New York, but never really had the time to go. I guess I had my opportunity a few months later.
When I walked up onto the stage, I remember Glen Sather congratulating me and saying that he was happy to be in the position to have selected me. After a few media photos, I made my way to the Rangers table on the floor, where I had the opportunity to meet with many of the scouts who had watched my progress over the last few seasons. After that, I met with the media for a little while and chatted live with fans on-line before enjoying the rest of the day with my family and the team.
Draft Day was a great day that I will never forget. For many players, the Draft is the beginning stage of realizing a life-long dream to one day play in the NHL. I was extremely fortunate to have had that opportunity last season in New York and that, too, was something special. But looking back on June 23, 2001, that day will always be a bright spot in my hockey memories.