|Brett Hull and Ralph Strangis |
For a select group of fans that was estimated at about 150, that experience was greatly enhanced by the unique amenities at the Stars’ Draft Party, held at Hully & Mo’s Restaurant Tap Room in uptown Dallas. The event was sponsored in conjunction with the club’s new radio home, SportsRadio 1310 (KTCK-AM) the Ticket.
At the classy restaurant well-decorated with sports memorabilia, including, of course, items from its namesakes Brett Hull and Mike Modano, the Stars celebrated the selection of the newest member of the organization, first-round pick Scott Glennie
, who was chosen eighth overall.
The evening included delicious food (mmm, chicken sliders!), drinks and fellow hockey fanatics to mingle with. Of course, there was also the presence of Hull, the Stars’ executive vice president and alternate governor who was recently elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, as well as Dallas players Toby Petersen
and Trevor Daley
, while play-by-play man Ralph Strangis emceed.
Lucky Stars fans in attendance learned that Petersen wasn’t drafted until the ninth round (244th overall) when Pittsburgh selected him in 1998, that Hull wished he wasn’t drafted at all (in the sixth round - 117 overall - by Calgary back in 1984) so he could become a free agent, and that Daley’s wife Kristy is preparing to give birth to the couple’s first child (“The due date is July 18 but it looks like she could go any time.”).
But the biggest perk to re-engaging with hockey after way too long during the dog days of summer was, first, that Strangis was able to announce the selection of Glennie to the crowd before Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Bernhardt reached the podium in Montreal. Then several minutes later, there was the slick technical hook-up via Skype that allowed Strangis to interview Glennie live on the large Hully & Mo’s HD screen, exclusively for the party audience.
“Right now, I’m trying to take it all in,” said Glennie, who scored 28 goals and 70 points in 55 games for Brandon of the WHL last year in junior hockey. “I was a little nervous, I didn’t think I’d go that high, but it feels great. Dallas is going to be a great place to play and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”
When Strangis asked what Stars fans can expect from him in the future, the confident 18-year-old center responded, “They’ll see a lot of speed, goal-scoring and playmaking ability, that’s what I’m going to bring to Dallas.”
Not too long after that, Bernhardt put on the headset and by the magic of modern technology, also appeared on the TV at Hully & Mo’s.
“Scott brings a lot of speed and skill,” Bernhardt said. “He has very good vision and sees the ice well. He’s a right wing but he’s also a centerman, so we don’t know what he’ll play down the road. His coach said he will play center next year and he’s played a lot of center before. But we’re very pleased that we were able to draft Scott.”
Bernhardt also praised the performance of new General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk in his first draft in charge of the Stars’ fortunes.
“Joe’s doing very good,” said Bernhardt, who has been with the organization since before they relocated from Minnesota and in his current position for the past 11 years. “He’s learning, he’s asking a lot of questions and he’s been much like (former GM) Bob Gainey, he’s letting the scouts and player personnel people do their jobs. Just listening, learning, being supportive and chipping in whenever he can.”
As for the venue itself, Hully & Mo’s was the perfect place to host this party, on the occasion of the Stars’ first draft selection lower than 25th overall since 1996. In fact, they hadn’t even had a first-round pick since Ivan Vishnevskiy (27th overall) in 2006.
“It’s fantastic to see, it’s a great turnout and the excitement of everybody about the draft,” Hull said of the energetic crowd gracing his establishment that first opened in January. “I think it’s a natural fit to have it here, but what you’re trying to do as an organization is you’re trying to stay close to the people that take care of you, and that’s season ticket holders and suite-holders and whatnot, and what better place to hold it? I think it’s 13 years since we had a pick in the top 10, it’s kind of exciting. And after a year that we had with all the injuries and whatnot, I think people are excited to see what way we’re going.”
The atmosphere was relaxed and casual, but there was certainly an exciting air of anticipation about the events unfolding in Montreal, but also influenced by the comfortable and pleasant surroundings.
“I couldn’t wish for a better party,” noted Eddie Cervantes, manager/proprietor of Hully & Mo’s, which was closed to all other customers for the private Stars gathering. “I was very excited when they asked would we entertain Stars fans, extremely excited. I think it’s a great fit and all it does is perpetuate what we’ve been trying to do, which is to be a sports-themed restaurant, using Brett and Mike as the heart and soul of the place. These are the right people for us to be in contact with and without the Stars’ help, we probably wouldn’t be able to touch these people. It’s been super, it’s a great night for us.”
The people enjoying the great food and drinks surely felt the same way, while up in Montreal, so did Glennie, who will be joined by more selections as the draft continues on Saturday. While Glennie and the other picks will undoubtedly need at least a couple of years to develop into full-time NHLers, the future looks bright for the organization.
“Dealing with 18-year-old kids, they’re a ways away from Dallas, but it’s still an exciting time to bring in these kids and replenish the stock,” Bernhardt said. “Even though most of them will be a ways away, it’s fun to do, because at one time, Brenden Morrow
was a long ways away, Niskanen, all these players were a ways away, but time goes by and they’ll be there sooner than later.”
Hull was also excited by what lies over the horizon for the Stars.
“You look at Eriksson and Neal and Brunnstrom and Jamie Benn
coming and possibly Gustavsson coming in as a goalie,” Hull said of all their young talent. “We’ve got Grossman and Niskanen and Fistric - we’ve got a great bunch of young kids. You’re going to be able to come out to the games and watch Neal and watch Eriksson and watch Brunnstrom and all these guys become men and hopefully meld into a Stanley Cup champion.”