He actually found out the news days earlier.
After the Caps 4-0 preseason win over the New York Islanders Sunday, Head Coach Barry Trotz met with the 21-year-old in his Verizon Center office. Sanford looked nervous.
“What do you think about your decision [to leave college early]?” Trotz asked.
“I’m happy with it,” Sanford replied.
“I’m not unhappy with it, too,” Trotz said. “You had a really good camp.”
And that’s when Trotz broke the news.
“I want you to let your mom and dad know that you’re going to be playing Opening Night so you can bring them in,” Trotz said. “Let’s hold off on [finding] a place just for a little bit. I just want you to concentrate on hockey for the first week or so here. Plus we’re going to Pittsburgh and all that.”
“You’ve earned it,” Trotz continued. “You came in here and you’ve done a great job and you’re going to start Opening Night. I’m glad we had the talk in the summer because I knew that this decision was right but it had to be right for you. Good on you. I’m happy for you kid.”
Once Sanford made the call to his parents, he admitted that their reaction to the news was stronger than he had anticipated.
“I think they thought I was kidding at first, to be honest,” Sanford said with a laugh. “Yeah, they were excited. I think they might have been just as excited as me.”
Receiving the news that you have made a professional NHL team unexpectedly can bring a lot of emotions, but Sanford looked cool, calm, and collected during his Media Luncheon interview with CSN. But Sanford couldn’t hide his excitement when Trotz told him he had realized a life-long dream.
“I mean I tried to play it cool and I started smiling a little bit, which you know, it kinda cracked me a little bit,” Sanford said. “But, I was definitely way more excited on the inside.”
Sanford will start the season as a winger on the third line likely with Justin Williams and Lars Eller. Sanford, a rising junior, left Boston College over the summer to sign a three-year entry-level deal with the Caps. Sanford has said he will continue to take classes over the summer so he can graduate.
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