"Let's face it, the present and immediate future look pretty grim these days. So let's all do like Fleetwood Mac and Don't Stop (Thinkin' About
Tomorrow). And by tomorrow, we mean the 2023 NHL draft, which is shaping
up to be not only outstanding, but incredibly intriguing as well.
By now, you've probably heard that Connor Bedard Michael Jordan Unc Jersey
, an offensive dynamo from North Vancouver, was granted exceptional
status by Hockey B.C., which makes him eligible to play in the Western
League next season as a 15-year-old. (He doesn't turn 15 until July, if
you can believe it.) This is a really, really big deal. Bedard is the
first player from B.C. to be granted that status. To give you an idea of
what kind of potential Bedard has, consider that both Ryan
Nugent-Hopkins and Mathew Barzal applied for exceptional status and were
denied in the home province.
Playing with and against players up to three years older, Bedard led all
scorers in the Midget Prep Division of the Canadian Sports School
Hockey League this season with 43 goals and 84 points in just 36 games.
And even though he's still on the small side, he has filled out to
5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. From a skill standpoint, however, there's no
doubt he's ready to play in the WHL. He already has a wrist shot that
has been likened to fellow B.C. native Joe Sakic's and his skill level
is off the charts.
But wait, there's more. Three players applied for exceptional status for
the WHL this season and both Brayden Yager and Riley Heidt are still
waiting to hear from the Saskatchewan Hockey Association about the
results of their applications for exceptional status. If one or both are
approved Trae Young Oklahoma Jersey
, it should make for interesting times when the WHL holds its bantam
draft April 22. The Regina Pats will pick first and the Prince George
Cougars second. There are some WHL scouts who believe that if both Yager
and Bedard were eligible to play next season, there are teams that
would take Yager first overall. The interesting thing about Yager and
Heidt is that both hail from the tiny hamlet of Dundurn, Sask., (pop.
647), which is about 30 miles south of Saskatoon, and were teammates on
the Saskatoon Contacts midget team this season.
And then there's Adam Fantilli, another player eligible for the NHL
draft in 2023 who recently committed to play next season alongside his
older brother, Luca, for the Chicago Steel of the USHL next season,
despite the fact he is the top prospect for the OHL draft. That means
Adam Fantilli, who is a December birthday, could play a year in the
USHL, and since he's fast-tracking through high school, would be
eligible to play two years of college hockey or in the OHL before being
drafted in 2023.
The North Bay Battalion hold the first overall pick in the draft and now
face a vexing decision. Do they draft Fantilli first overall in the
hopes that he plays for them in 2021-22, but with no guarantees that
he'll ever play there? The Fantilli family has been upfront with the
Battalion about its plans and has already told the team that it is not
playing draft games to end up at a pre-determined destination.
“We've said from the beginning we weren't going to do any of those
shenanigans,” said Adam's father Guiliano. “That's not who we are at
This past season, Adam eschewed the opportunity to play for the Toronto
Jr. Canadiens, one of the top midget teams in the country, and instead
decided to play with his older brother at Kimball Union Academy in
Meriden, N.H., where he scored 18 goals and 36 points playing for the
varsity team Tyler Herro Kentucky Jersey
. The plan is for both brothers to play in Chicago next season, then once
Adam finishes high school, he'll have the choice of playing either
college hockey or in the OHL. The Fantillis have told the Battalion that
if Adam decides to go the OHL route, he would be happy to report to
North Bay to start the 2021-22 season, but there are no guarantees. Luca
has made a commitment to the University of Michigan, but that doesn't
necessarily mean that Adam will play there with his brother.
“Luca has wanted to play for Michigan since he was a little kid, but
Adam is different, he likes the OHL and he likes the NCAA,” Guiliano
said. “He doesn't know what he wants to do yet. He'll take this year to
develop in Chicago and play with his brother. North Bay had an awesome
presentation, but it just wasn't the right fit for (2020-21). It doesn't
mean it won't be next year. We told them, ‘We're not going to play for
anybody else. It's not a North Bay thing. It's just we're not ready
right now.' ”"
"GR: First and foremost, you have a team at the NHLPA's office. How are
they doing? Are they at work, or working at home?
DF: Our offices are in Toronto and most people live in Metropolitan
Toronto. The office, at this point, is closed except for necessary
people coming in to keep the servers operating and that kind of thing.
All of the senior people that would be in contact with players or work
with the NHL or with our licensees or anything like that are working
from home. Everybody has electronic capabilities. We have either seven
or eight or nine people that are at various locations in the States,
too. So we're in contact Vince Carter Unc Jersey
. All the players and their agents have electronic communications, too.
So while it's more cumbersome, and it's more difficult to have meetings
and discussions by conference call, or email, in fact, it can get done,
and we're all adapting and just hoping it doesn't last too long.
GR: The the PA has experience communicating with team reps via
teleconference in the past. Is it still working today?
DF: Oh, sure. It's it's still working. We have five former players on
staff, and they are in constant communication with player reps: very
often with senior players, who have been around and have a lot of
interest in how the union works, but also with the younger players.
Last week, we held team conference calls. I haven't added up the
numbers, but I'm going to say we had between 400 to 500 players who
participated on those calls. They're a little cumbersome, they're
difficult. The logistical problems of trying to have conversations with
multiple people go up in direct proportion to the number of people on
the call, but you get it done. And I must say that whenever I've been in
a crisis - although this one is different than anyone before, of course
- I'm always struck by how thoughtful and how sober and how deliberate
the players are in terms of coming to grips with the issues they face
and making decisions about them. And that's certainly true here.
GR: Is it the PA's plan to have team calls on a frequent basis: monthly,
weekly? Is there any structure to that, or is it just as an update from
time to time?
DF: At this point, it's as needed. As we get closer to the point where
hopefully we can resume, my guess is those will be more frequent. But
you should understand that if we have executive-board conference calls,
first of all, we get frequently lots of players who aren't technically
on the executive board who have joined. And then the former players will
reach out to the rest of the players on the teams, and then we'll get a
series of telephone calls or emails or texts. So communication is
GR: This is something that really none of us have seen in our lifetimes.
What's the PA doing to assist players or communicate with players to
get them through those emotional roller coasters that everybody is
living with today?
DF: You do a number of things Zion Williamson Duke Jersey
. First of all, you're in contact with the NHL to make certain that when
nothing's going on, and there's no reason for people to stay in the
club's home city, that if they don't live there, they can go home. They
can go wherever they feel most comfortable to take care of themselves
and their families, especially their kids. They have parents and
grandparents they need to look out for and they should be able do that
wherever that happens to be. And sometimes, there are border issues and
immigration issues and issues relating to other things. We work through
those on a case-by-case basis, and occasionally, you have hiccups and
problems. But for the most part, you get it worked out. Athletes, of
course, in the team sports are used to saying, “all right, we had a game
today, we got another game tomorrow and then a game after that” and
they very quickly put yesterday behind them.
And in this situation, the players are not in a position to be
confronted with, OK, we'll do this until this date, and then we'll do
something else. And we're going to resume on this other date down the
road. And this is what the format's going to look like. So there's a lot
of waiting involved. That said, the guys understand it. They understand
what we're going through, they understand that we can't give them the
answers we don't have, and that we don't want to guess.
GR: Is this something that, I know the PA does a lot for all the
players, but is this the time where the team reps really step up and
help out the other players?
DF: In large part, I think that's right. They feel, as a general rule,
most of them, they have a responsibility. They have a responsibility to
inform the players on their team. They have a responsibility to listen
to them, a responsibility to relay their questions to us and then get
the answers back or put them directly in communication with a lawyer on
staff or the former players on staff. That is an extra role that they
take on, and they take it on because it's the right thing to do. With
any group of our size, you have people that will be leaders on different
kinds of issues, and we certainly do. That was a case throughout my
tenure in baseball also. But it's also the case that my staff really
earns its pay during a crisis, too. In that regard, though, I'm not sure
we're all that much different from most other groups or businesses and
in the general society. When things are going well, it's easy. When
things are not going well, that's when we find out."