A lot has changed since Larry Playfair was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978.
When Playfair was selected 13th overall by the Sabres that year, the 22-round Amateur Draft was held in a ballroom at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. (This was the last draft to be referred to as the Amateur Draft. It became known as the Entry Draft in 1979.)
There was no television coverage or social media. There were no prospects or fans in the room, just representatives from the league’s 17 teams.
When the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft takes place on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the building will be full of aspiring NHLers and their families, and fans will be able to watch the live television broadcast in the United States and Canada.
The draft is now just a seven-round affair, with rounds two through seven expected to be rundown in under four hours on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
More than 14,000 free tickets were available for both days of this year’s draft, and they were gone instantly. There’s now a waiting list in Philadelphia for people to come watch future hockey players not play hockey in a building with no ice.
Playfair, who grew up in British Columbia, recently shared his draft day experience with Sabres.com. It really goes to show just how much the draft process has changed in 36 years.
“My agent Peter Smith called me at 7:30 a.m. (PDT) to let me know I’d been drafted.
I borrowed my mom’s car and left the house to go tell my dad. He worked for the town as the superintendent, and I found him fixing someone’s water line about three blocks away.
Later on that morning, I was out at a friend’s shop changing the motor in my pick-up truck when the office called the shop. It was around 12:30 p.m., and they announced over the shop’s PA system that Sabres GM Punch Imlach was on the phone and he wanted to talk to me.
The first reporter I spoke to that day was Warner Hessler from The Courier-Express; he called me on the phone later that afternoon.”
Playfair went on to play 688 games over 12 seasons with Buffalo and Los Angeles.