Get taken aback

LIAM MAGUIRE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Hockey fans are surprised by three things regarding the NHL draft: That it began in 1963, that the Montreal Canadiens did not have exclusive rights to French-Canadians, and that the Boston Bruins drafted Ken Dryden.

There have been 9,036 players selected in the draft, with another 200-plus set to be taken this week at Scotiabank Place. Ninety-two major junior teams have been represented on draft day. Fourteen countries, including Canada, have had players selected, with the Soviet Union/CIS/Russia grouping leading the international contingent with 510.

Interestingly, the number of Soviet-born players taken peaked in 1992 with 45, compared to just seven last year.

With no transfer agreement in place and more problems on the horizon with the IIHF over transfer fees, there could be an increase in the number of Canadians selected.

Here are 10 little-known facts about previous draft days:

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

The draft started 45 years ago with no thought of it becoming a lifeline for NHL teams.

In those days, teams could unearth players from anywhere and have them sign a C form -- short for confirmation -- which all but locked them up for life.

The Bruins signed up Bobby Orr, with his parents' consent, in the spring of 1960. Orr had just turned 12.

In 1963, the Canadiens began a second seven-year stint (the other was 1936-1943) in which they were given priority to sign two players a year from Quebec. The only caveat being these players could not have already signed a C form with another team.

That's why, much to the Canadiens' chagrin, they were unable to obtain the rights to Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert, Bernie Parent, Marcel Pronovost and countless others.

The Habs' monopoly over French-Canadian players is the biggest myth in draft history.

Original Six teams picked in a predetermined order that rotated year by year, regardless of finishing position.

Montreal picked first in 1963, and last in 1964. Legendary GM "Trader" Sam Pollock made his first-ever draft-day deal in 1964. He traded Montreal's first- and second-round selections, Guy Allen and Paul Reid, for Boston's first pick, Ken Dryden. Allen and Reid never played in the NHL.

LEAFS SELECT ... NOBODY

The draft was thought so little of in those days you could even opt out, which the Toronto Maple Leafs did in 1965.

Did they miss anything? Don't think so. The Habs grabbed Pierre Bouchard with their pick, and only one other player of the 11 drafted even played in the NHL, Michel Parizeau. His claim to fame was playing with Wayne Gretzky in Indianapolis and Mark Messier in Cincinnati of the WHA.

The St. Louis Blues are the only other team to not participate in a draft. Ownership issues precluded them from participating in 1983. Longtime Nepean residents might recall how a transfer of the Blues' franchise to Nepean was considered.

APPS-PROPOS FIRST

With the 21st pick in 1964, the N.Y. Rangers selected Syl Apps Jr., making him the first player selected whose father had played in the NHL. Apps Jr. went on to play more than 700 NHL games and was the MVP of the 1975 all-star game. His dad was the famous Syl Apps Sr., longtime Maple Leaf.

CORNWALL CONNECTION

The Flyers took Bobby Clarke with their second pick in 1969. Their first-round selection, Cornwall native Bob Currier, never made it to the NHL. Only one other player out of Cornwall was selected in 1969, Gord Smith of Perth who played 299 games in the NHL. He's also the brother of legendary goalie Billy Smith.

UN-BELEAFABLE SCOUTING

The state of the Leafs under Harold Ballard's regime has been well-documented. Perhaps their scouting should take a hit as well. In 1971, the Leafs selected 10 players who played a total of 213 games in a Toronto uniform.

One of the six who did not play a single game was their last choice, Bob Burns, the only player who can say he was drafted out of the army.

Burns was with the Canadian Forces in 1971 when he scored 86 points and had 176 PIMs in a 40-game international exhibition schedule. Needless to say that opposition was a far cry from the NHL. His North American career lasted four games in the EHL.

BACK IN THE MIX

In 1978, six players were redrafted after not agreeing to terms with the original clubs. Today, that process can't happen until two seasons have passed.

Harold Luckner was the first redrafted player in NHL history. He was selected by the Islanders 121st overall in 1977, did not come to terms on a contract and re-entered the draft in 1978, going 56th overall to Vancouver. He never played in the NHL, but did have a solid career in his native Sweden where he also later coached.

ONE MORE FOR FIRST ROUND

The 1978 and 1969 drafts produced extra first-round selections.

Tim Coulis was taken 18th overall by the Washington Capitals in 1978. The pick originally belonged to the Cleveland Barons, who were discontinuing operations and merging with Minnesota. It was deemed that along with a dispersal of their players, the Barons' first two picks would also be up for grabs. However, if a team opted for the draft pick, instead of a player, it would have to take that pick at the end of the first round -- hence Coulis being selected 18th in a 17-team league.

In 1969, the Habs protected Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif with their "cultural picks" before the other 11 teams selected. So 13 players were taken in a 12-team league. The Habs' draft rule was then voted out.

NOS 51: OH, BROTHERS!

The Canadiens and Minnesota North Stars took a pair of brothers one year apart, each with the 51st pick in 1984 and 1985, respectively. Both were selected from Granby of the QMJHL. Stephane Roy, taken in 1985, did not enjoy much NHL success. Brother Patrick, taken by Montreal, had a bit better run.

HE'S GOT LIFE EXPERIENCE

Helmut Balderis became the oldest player ever selected in the draft in 1989 when the North Stars took him 238th overall at age 37. He played 26 games in the NHL.

LOW SEN HITS HIGH MARK

Taken 291st in 2003, Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Brian Elliott tied the mark for the lowest draft choice to play in the NHL. The other lowest pick, Jonathan Ericsson, drafted by Detroit in 2002, played eight games for the Cup-champion Red Wings this past season.


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