Killer a little ticked at inn crowd

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Brian Kilrea will watch the NHL draft Saturday on television in the comfort of his basement.

And, no, the legendary coach and GM of the 67's can't remember the last time that happened.

While Kilrea would rather make the drive to the Corel Centre to watch Sidney Crosby get introduced as the No. 1 pick live along with the other prospects, there's no room for spectators since the draft is being held at the Westin Hotel.

"I know they're bringing in the top 15 or 20 prospects and it will be nice for those players, but I wish we were in a situation where the draft was being held at the Corel Centre and everybody was able to attend," said Kilrea.

"I like when the draft is a wide-open event and the kids get a chance to hear their name called. They get to put on the sweater, go to the table and get to meet all the scouts. It's a special moment for a player and his family. Everybody has put so much into that moment and it just seems like it's not going to be the same."

While the NHL was offered the use of the 18,500-seat Corel Centre, commissioner Gary Bettman and Senators president Roy Mlakar felt it would be impossible to pull together a huge public event only eight days after the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified.

That means Saturday's draft is going to be pretty swift and fairly quiet. The top prospects -- accompanied by their families and agents -- will be in the room to hear their name called, but after the top 20 are drafted, the rest of the event will move pretty quickly.

Under normal circumstances, a player selected in the second round and beyond will come down from the stands and get presented with a team jersey by a club official before shaking hands with the staff. Later in the day, their family is invited to a reception by the team.

'THRILL FOR THE KIDS'

"I know they used to hold the draft at a hotel in Montreal a long time ago, but I believe there have been a lot of great memories for players who have had their names called at the draft," said Kilrea, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"You hear complaints that kids go to the draft and then they don't get picked and they're brokenhearted. That only happens in a few cases and those kids were told that they shouldn't go any way. It's a bigger thrill for the kids to get picked and get a chance to put on that sweater. They should be given that opportunity."

Kilrea said he's disappointed the draft has been lowered from nine rounds to seven.

"There are guys who are rated late (round picks) by Central Scouting that deserve the chance to be drafted and given the opportunity to make an NHL team," said Kilrea. "Teams take a chance on players who are taken late and guys who might develop late in their (junior-age) careers. What you are going to have is a bunch of guys who are going to be looking for jobs as free agents."


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