Draft day experience 'special' for Sens' Leclaire
Senators goaltender didn't have to wait long for first-round mystery to reveal itself
|Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire was the eighth overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla., with the Columbus Blue Jackets calling his name (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images).
But it was fun while it lasted.
It was nine years ago in Sunrise, Fla., that the Ottawa Senators goaltender arrived at the National Car Rental Center, still very unaware who might call his name in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
As it turned out, the waiting game ended fairly quickly, as the Columbus Blue Jackets made Leclaire the eighth overall pick on a Saturday afternoon in Sunrise, Fla., in the building now known as the BankAtlantic Center.
"To finally hear your name called is a pretty special moment, especially sharing that with your family," Leclaire said in recalling his draft selection. "You work all your life to get there and it's kind of the first official step toward the NHL, getting drafted.
"For the guys who had the chance to get picked in the first round, just going to get that jersey up on the stage is pretty special."
Leclaire knew the Blue Jackets had some interest in him, but they were hardly alone. Not that he had any inkling which of the interested clubs would make him their pick.
"I remember (talking to) four or five teams that had a little more of a chance of picking me, like Columbus," he said. "I remember seeing Chicago and the New York Rangers a lot. You try to get scoops from your agent to try to figure out where you're going.
"Even the morning (of the draft), when we got to the rink, it was the same thing. You're trying to figure it out."
But when a couple of television cameras moved into place near him during a commercial break just before the Blue Jackets' turn to pick, Leclaire started thinking his time had arrived.
"After you get on stage and you meet everybody, then it starts. You go around taking pictures and stuff and it's non-stop. It's just exciting and fun and you do that with a big smile on your face. You meet so many people but when you get back to the hotel at night, that's when it really kicks in that you've been drafted."
For more from Sens goaltender Pascal Leclaire, listen to our exclusive Friday Phone Call off-season feature.