Being selected first overall by the team that organizes the draft is a rare phenomenon. Since 1980, when the NHL abandoned the Queen Elizabeth hotel in favor of the amphitheaters of its circuit, it has only happened twice: Doug Wickenheiser, in 1980, in Montreal, and Wendel Clark, in 1985, in Toronto.
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It is therefore difficult to find examples to understand how Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky or Logan Cooley will feel when the general manager of the Canadiens, Kent Hughes, pronounces the name of the lucky winner on the Bell Center stage tomorrow.
Jocelyn Thibault did not have the luxury of being first in class. Nonetheless, in 1993, the Nordiques made him their first pick, 10th overall, in a jam-packed Quebec Coliseum.
“I had a good idea that I was going to come out between ninth and 12th. But I did not expect it to be with the Nordiques at all, said Thibault, joined by Le Journal over the weekend. I had looked at the formation of the teams and I found that the Nordiques already had a lot of goalkeepers in their organization. »
"Rarely seen that"
The supporters, they had nothing to do with Stéphane Fiset, Jacques Cloutier and Garth Snow.
While Pierre Pagé, at that time GM of the Fleurdelysé, headed for the stage, the crowd came out, chanting the name of the goalkeeper of the Sherbrooke Faucons.
"It took me a few seconds to realize that it was my name that was being called out. Supporters were chanting my name. It was amazing. I never understood where it came from. Besides, I watched drafts of it on television and I rarely saw that, ”maintained the one who is the general manager of Hockey Quebec.
Pagé did not disappoint his supporters. When the selection of the young Laval resident was announced, the crowd jumped up and applauded wildly, continuing to chant the name of their new darling.
"I was really surprised. I was a little guy who just came to live his draft, who couldn't wait to see what team he was going to end up with. So, to experience this welcome, seriously, I couldn't believe it, said Thibault. After that, I sometimes wondered what would have happened if the Nordiques hadn't chosen me. »
Thanks to Eric Lindros
It must be said that Quebec had obtained this selection in the megatransaction which had sent Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers a year earlier.
With another right to speak at 14th (the Nordiques had chosen Adam Deadmarsh), Pagé could afford a little splurge.
The best keeper
And he was not mistaken since Thibault carved out a position with the team the following fall. Additionally, of the 36 goaltenders selected in the 11 rounds of this draft, he was the most successful and one of only two to have over 500 starts and won over 200 games.
"I think I'm a great example that even if you have an abundance of players in a certain position, if you like the one on your roster, take it. At worst, if you have too much, you will trade it. That's what they did with me and they went for pieces that won them the Stanley Cup [with the Colorado Avalanche]. »