NHL feeling back-draft

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:14 PM ET

The NHL is taking heat for shutting the door on fans who wanted to see the entry draft in Ottawa.

While there was hope Sidney Crosby would be cheered on by a crowd at the Corel Centre, it appears the NHL is headed for the Westin Hotel on July 30.

Sources say the league was offered the opportunity to hold the draft at the Corel Centre, but the NHL feels it should be a small affair because of the difficulties getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place and ratified.

That means the draft will be a small affair with only about 20 of the top prospects on hand -- including Crosby, who is one of the most anticipated picks to come along in years, if not decades.

"The league wants to keep it on a smaller scale because everything is going to have to be pulled together in a week," a league source said yesterday.

"That's too bad, the league is missing a real opportunity to market the game with Crosby. There shouldn't be any concern because if they opened the doors at the Corel Centre, the place would probably be jammed."

Senators spokesman Phil Legault said any announcements regarding the draft will be made by the league once the CBA has been ratified and normal business proceeds.

If that's not enough, the league is also planning to hold the draft lottery in private next Thursday in New York.

It has been suggested it would make good television since there is so much anticipation of who is going to get Crosby, but the league is trying to be extra cautious because some GMs are upset not everybody is going to get an equal shot at the No. 1 pick.

Instead, the lottery will be weighted in favour of teams that haven't made the playoffs the last three years.

"My preference would have been for everybody to be treated the same, but we've heard that just isn't going to happen," said Flyers GM Bob Clarke.

"But that's all right. There's no point in worrying about it or complaining about it."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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