(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).
This morning, all three of us first-round draft picks — Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen and myself — got asked to do a ceremonial puck drop before a game at a minor hockey tournament at the Bell Sensplex, where we’ve been training during development camp. That kind of thing is part of the whole business scenario and stuff like that. In order to help get fans out, you have to give back to the community and I’ve never been one to mind doing stuff like that and it’s fun.
Whenever I get the chance to talk to kids, the main thing I tell them about hockey is to have fun. You remember going back to when you were that age and if someone took the time to talk to you, it made your day and made your week, so it's important that we do the same thing. Sometimes, when you’re trying to give back that way, you bring yourself back to when you were that young and remember how much that meant to you. That motivates you to want to do that kind of thing even more yourself.
Last night, we had an autograph session with fans at the Sensplex. It was neat to have people coming up and saying it’s exciting to have me here and they were excited when the Senators picked me. In such a big city, to have people know your name like that, it’s pretty special and humbling. It’s pretty shocking how many people here do know who I am, but it’s also really nice. That’s what you get in a good hockey city where the fans are so well educated, like they are here.
Maybe part of the reason people know me is that the Petes come to Ottawa to play the 67’s so often. I’m not too sure. Or they just follow the Sens really closely. With the Internet today and everything that goes on in the news and stuff like that, I find that fans know so much more about what’s going on. Every little thing is watched and people know who you are when you go out and they happen to see you.
Mika, Stefan and I will always be the guys the Senators picked in the first round this year. But when you come here, nobody thinks about when you went or where you went in the draft. It’s a matter of what you do from now on. Those numbers play into things during the draft weekend but once you get to this camp, it’s all over. The three of us haven’t talked too much about it. It’s a nice accomplishment and we’re all really happy about it but at the same time, the draft is kind of in the past now and we’re looking forward to bigger things.