LOS ANGELES - Christian Thomas’ NHL draft day experience will be much more memorable than that of his father, Steve.
“On my draft day,” said the proud father Saturday at the Staples Center, “I went downstairs in my pyjamas and looked in the paper to see if my name had been called. It wasn’t.”
The Thomases were just one example of a common theme that marked the second day of the NHL draft as rounds two through seven unfolded - there were five sons of former NHLers selected - a noteworthy trend on what turned out to be a relatively uneventful day as far as trades and rumours.
“The only splash I made this week,” said Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter, one of the stars of last year’s draft, “was off a surfboard. It was pretty quiet.”
The only deal Saturday involving a “name” NHLer was the rights to potential UFA defenceman Dan Hamuis being swapped - again, this time from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round pick in next year’s draft - unless you consider Vladimir Sobotka, shipped off to the St. Louis Blues by the Boston Bruins, a name player.
Sutter was one of the general managers who did dip into the gene pool Saturday, opting to take Maxwell Reinhart, the son of former Flame Paul Reinhart, and defenceman John Ramage, the son of ex-Flames blueliner Rob Ramage.
The Tampa Bay Lightning made Brock Beukeboom, the son of former New York Rangers defenceman Jeff, the 63rd pick overall.
New Bolts general manager Steve Yzerman said knowing a prospect’s hockey lineage is an important consideration in projecting what kind of kid they are going to have.
“I think that’s got a lot of validity,” he said. “You look at Christian Thomas or Brock Beukeboom and their dads were rock solid characters as NHL players. They come from great families that raised their boys properly. There’s something to fall back on there. It helps to know the fathers, the type of people they are and the players they were.”
The sons taken Saturday joined first-rounder Jarred Tinordi, son of Mark, who played almost 700 games with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals. Jarred Tinordi was taken 22nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens.
Christian Thomas, who was taken 40th overall by the New York Rangers, said his father, who played more than 1,200 games for six teams, was an invaluable resource growing up.
“Having a dad who played 20 years in the NHL,” he said, “he pretty much knows everything.”
What dad doesn’t want to hear his son say that?
Steve Thomas went to the Stanley Cup final with the Anaheim Ducks in 2003 and said he thinks Christian getting to experience that from the inside - he was about 10 at the time - had a profound effect.
“I think that was an inspiring moment for him,” said Steve. “We played a Game 7 and there was all this media hype. I think he thought that was pretty cool.”
Both Dalton Smith, the son of former NHLer Derrick Smith, who played 537 games with three teams, and Brock Beukeboom said seeing how their fathers approached their work gave them an early appreciation of what it takes to get to and play in the NHL.
“I’ve seen the hard work and the hours my dad put in,” said Dalton, the Ottawa 67’s winger taken 34th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Now I’ve got the opportunity. My dad said, ‘Every day, you can't be satisfied because no matter how hard you worked,” said Brock Beukeboom, “somebody on the other side of the world is working harder than you.
“He’s the biggest role model I’ve had. If not for my father, I don’t know if I would be standing here today.”
Saturday, there were a lot of kids who used to run around NHL dressing rooms who could say the same thing.