Contributed by Hockey Mom (ON, Canada)
All three of us watched and waited. And waited. And waited. By the ninth round of the OHL Priority Selection, my husband and I knew it was not going to happen. In his heart, our son knew it, too. Months later, he confided to us that he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to be drafted. When he was sure he wanted it, things changed and one year later, we were back at it again watching the OHL draft on our family computer.
The second time our son’s name appeared on the OHL draft list, a year after he was first eligible, we were hopeful, but less anxious. We’d been through this before, so this time it was easier to turn off the computer. We knew it was best not to torment ourselves. So, we stopped watching after the fourth, or fifth, round. Our son headed to his bedroom to watch it on his iPhone, and fell asleep. My husband headed downstairs to watch television and catch some z’s in his La-Z-Boy recliner. I lay down on the couch in the living room to read, occasionally peeking at my iPad, and nodded off.
All three of us were asleep when the telephone rang moments before the OHL team announced our son’s name as their ninth round pick.
Man, did this feel different.
A year earlier we watched, on and off, until the bitter end. I fussed with small cleaning jobs around the main floor of the house, my husband sat in front of the family computer continuously refreshing the Web page. Our kid, up in his bedroom, watched on his own. When he was not drafted, we mildly surprised, but what we did not know at the time was the level of interest and what that means in practical terms as an indicator to the likelihood, or probability of being drafted. Players on our minor midget team were hopeful; many felt it would be cool to be drafted; others believed it to be a certainty. A few were shocked when it did not happen. We were somewhere on the end of the scale of uncertain to certain.
For us, the entire season felt different
When you are on the radar, it’s more than just passing interest. CHL interest goes beyond a standard questionnaire and a brief telephone inquiry. There is consistent, and increasing, interest throughout the season. For example, three CHL teams expressed interest through telephone calls, indirect contact through the coaching staff, and directly to us in person. This included an invitation to main camp should our kid remain undrafted (a pretty good Plan B that would soften the blow should a second draft come and go without being selected). We would later learn that another team expressed deep interest through the head coach. A fifth team—one with ties to the community where he was playing and one we had no idea at all was interested—is the team that drafted him. Throughout the season, particularly after a feature sports article appeared in regional newspapers, four Junior A clubs came calling.
Once the season was over, team-mates told our son what they knew. Players, too, have a wide network and they are acutely aware of the buzz around a team-mate. They heard draft rumours from fitness trainers, from skills/shooting instructors, and they spotted scouts in the stands during warm-up.
There was what some call “heat” around the player. We felt the warmth.