The 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul Minnesota is where 18-year-old kids come to shape their lives through hockey.
Brian Burke, who will pick a number of them for the Toronto Maple Leafs, knows a bit about that.
“We moved to Minnesota (from Rhode Island) when I was in the middle of seventh grade,” he said. “Our stuff didn’t come for two days so you have 10 kids in a motel in Bloomington, Minnesota. We’re waiting for the moving truck and the State Tournament comes on the TV.
“Edina, the town we were moving into was playing in the state tournament and I was so taken by 15,000 people at the Met Centre, fully televised, jammed to the rafters. On the one day they had two crowds. People from the first game had to leave and then another 15,000 people came in to take their seats.”
For Burke, that’s where it all began.
“I was so taken by how important hockey was in Minnesota.”
“I played once or twice on ponds in Boston. I had never played organized hockey of any kind. I said this is the game I’ve got to play if I’m ever going to fit in.”
Burke would make it to the Metropolitan Arena, the Met, as a midget and high school player before embarking on his law degree and a winding career that would take him through agenting, Hartford, Vancouver, Anaheim and now Toronto.
Stories start at the NHL draft. Longshots hit or they don’t. Far from shriveling up, the debate over who was the better or the worst pick burns with retrospect only increasing the flames.
There will be plenty to hear and see and I will be doing it for you over the next couple of days. Trade banter is at a whisper and the Leafs with choices 25, 30 and 39 are seeking to move up. Burke has said he is also looking at packaging picks to bring a player, presumably the top tier centre the team desperately needs.
The first round goes Friday night. The trades could go at anytime or not at all.
All or nothing or something in between, I will be in touch.