Sting is Stamkos' No. 1 fan

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Dave MacQueen has not had the pleasure of coaching a first overall pick in the Ontario Hockey League.

That will change next season.

As expected, the Sarnia Sting yesterday announced it will choose centre Steven Stamkos first overall in the OHL draft, which gets underway via the Internet at 9 a.m. today.

MacQueen, who was named Sting coach on Thursday after being let go by the Erie Otters earlier, realizes he will have to toe a fine line with Stamkos. MacQueen does not want to put too much on the 16-year-old's shoulders but he doesn't want to waste Stamkos' talents, either. The Unionville native had 197 points in 67 games this season for the Markham Waxers minor midgets. The team did not lose a single game.

"I think it is going to be a daily process with him," MacQueen said. "There's going to be a lot of communication and we will try to take some pressure off him. I try not to put young kids in position to fail. At the same time, he is going to be expected to contribute right away."

Stamkos has no problem being the centrepiece of a rebuilding club.

"People are going to be expecting a lot of the No. 1 pick," Stamkos said. "It has been a lot of hard work and dedication for me to get to this point and I think I am ready for it."

The Oshawa Generals will take defenceman Michael Del Zotto, a close friend and teammate of Stamkos, second overall. At No. 3, the Mississauga IceDogs will choose defenceman Alex Pietrangelo of the Jr. Canadiens.

The St. Michael's Majors have the 10th pick in the first round, while the Brampton Battalion owns the 17th choice.


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