Sens tap into 2008 draft

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Ottawa will feel another draft in 2008.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Sun the league has decided to hold a "full-blown" entry draft at the Corel Centre in 2008 to make up for the fact this year's will be closed to the public.

It's projected about $15 million will be injected into the local economy.

While 18,500 cheering fans won't get a chance to see centre Sidney Crosby put on a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey Saturday at the Westin Hotel, they might be in for a treat during the two-day affair June 21-22, 2008.

That's the year now-14-year-old Oshawa Generals centre John Tavares is scheduled to graduate from the OHL and he's the early odds-on favourite to be selected No. 1 overall.

"We wanted to come to Ottawa (out) of respect to the economy (this year)," said Bettman from his New York office. "We are committing to a full-blown, full-fledged draft in 2008 at the Corel Centre and doing it the right way.

"We just weren't in a position to do it the right way on a massive scale with the short notice we had. We owe the fans in Ottawa a draft. This draft on Saturday is something we have to do as a matter of getting the league up and running, but we just weren't able to do it right on this time frame."

NOT ENOUGH TIME

Bettman said there just wasn't enough time to hold a full public draft with Crosby this year.

"There's a lot to do (with a draft). Neither of our organizations (NHL and Senators) had the resources or the time to do it right and we're dealing with inordinate time pressure to get things moving and up and running for the season," said Bettman. "All the things that we traditionally do to make the draft work the way it historically has, we couldn't do. We felt while we needed to have a draft to get up and running quickly, we couldn't do it in 10 days."

Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli is thrilled about the city getting the chance to host a draft so soon again.

"It's good news," said Chiarelli. "It's really going to focus on the fact Ottawa is hockey country."

Meanwhile, Bettman is convinced the league is going in the right direction with a new CBA in place.

LIKES CBA

"I believe all 30 teams can be economically healthy and competitive where they are currently located ... Every team that is run well should at least be able to break even. We would hope that a number of clubs would be able to do better," said Bettman. "But we're looking for stability and competitiveness and competitive balance in the first instance. This system should do it while at the same time it gives the players their fair share and it gives the fans comfort that this is the type of system that makes the game vibrant, healthy and give them hope that their team every year has a chance to win it all. That's what you want."


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