Professional sports leagues hold drafts at large venues and they are gigantic productions on TV. Well-dressed players and their families pack into seats while fans cheer or boo picks.
But back during TJ Oshie’s NHL Draft, things weren’t like that. In 2005, the draft was held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa since the NHL lockout was still ongoing. The event was not public for the first time since 1980. Only the 20 highest prospects on the NHL Central Scouting rankings were present. Oshie that year was selected in the first round, 24th overall by the St. Louis Blues.
With this year’s NHL Draft unlikely to happen publicly, Oshie was asked by reporters what his experience was like.
His story is absurd.
“I think I have a little bit of a different story than a lot the other guys that were drafted,” Oshie said. “I was at my buddy’s house (presumably in Warroad, Minnesota). I think I was watching MTV Real World or Road Rules Challenge or one of those things. I wasn’t really paying any attention to the draft. My dream wasn’t really to get drafted. It was to play in the NHL. I never watched hockey growing up. I don’t know. I just never watched the draft. I honestly didn’t even really know what it meant.
“When you see it on TV now and you see the kids drafted and their families there, and they get to go on the stage, it’s probably a pretty cool feeling and accomplishment. But it just wasn’t something I thought about and it wasn’t that important for me personally. I think the NHL does a good job of getting the families there, getting the fans, holding it at different sites, having the draft.
Naturally, Oshie was asked a follow-up and gave more details about draft day. According to Oshie, he didn’t even remember who from the Blues organization called him and he had to google the team’s roster before doing interviews with reporters.
“Everyone’s going to think I’m crazy. I didn’t really want to answer the phone. I’m a pretty shy guy,” Oshie said. “When I did… I’m trying to think who called me. See I don’t even remember. It was either John Davidson or … Yeah, anyways.
“Someone just called and mentioned that I was drafted and they were very excited to have me. Like I said before, I didn’t know what being drafted meant. My dad didn’t focus too much on scouting and didn’t let people really talk to me back then. I was just playing hockey and having fun.
“So I do remember one thing, they asked me who I was most excited to play with on the Blues. I didn’t know any players on the Blues because I didn’t watch hockey. I said, ‘Everyone. Just to play in the NHL would be amazing.’ After the initial phone call, they said I was going to do a media conference call so I ran to my buddy’s house and had to google the St. Louis Blues roster and coaches and all of that stuff like I was cramming for a test. Then I went golfing. I had to do some phone calls while I was golfing. I was a little frustrated about that. I had gotten drafted in the WHL to the Seattle Thunderbirds before that. I don’t know if I got drafted by Sioux Falls or not. I got drafted to these teams and never played for them really so I was like they just draft ya, and hold your rights. So I was like ‘All right, whatever. The St. Louis Blues hold my rights!’ I can’t wait to get to North Dakota.”
Oshie would go on to play three seasons in college for the University of North Dakota before signing with the Blues after his junior year. Oshie made the St. Louis roster out of Training Camp and never played in the minor leagues.
“I was not a great student of the game, especially the draft process,” Oshie said. “[I’m] not the typical draft story.”
Headline photo courtesy of the @Capitals
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