TORONTO -- Roy Mlakar says fans in Ottawa will get the chance to attend an NHL draft ... just not this year.
While sources say the Westin Hotel in Ottawa will remain closed to the public when Rimouski Oceanic star centre Sidney Crosby is selected No. 1 overall at the draft on July 30, Mlakar insisted there isn't any choice.
When asked about holding a draft open to the public at Corel Centre, Mlakar said in a statement via e-mail: "With only 10 days to host a major event of this magnitude (after the CBA was agreed to in principle and subject to ratification), Gary Bettman and I -- along with his executives responsible for implementing such a large event --knew it would be impossible on such short notice. (Bettman) has assured me that Ottawa will get a future draft and enjoy all functions that surround such a major event. We have assured the league that we will play whatever role they determine we can to be of assistance if a smaller version is available here. I'm sure (Bettman) will address this very soon."
The NHL draft lottery, which was supposed to be a private affair with the board of governors in New York, will be held on Friday with the results being televised on TSN.
On draft day, players, agents and parents won't even be allowed into the conference room at the hotel where the draft takes place. Only the 15 top prospects are being invited to the city and they'll be quickly shuttled out of a side room to put on their sweaters. After doing an interview with TSN and shaking hands with representatives of the team that drafts them, they'll leave the room.
But Crosby's agent Pat Brisson doesn't believe that's such a bad idea. Sure, he'd love the fanfare for his client with 18,500 people in the Corel Centre, however, he's seen a lot of heartbreak over the years.
"I personally like a smaller location for the draft," said Brisson. "There are too many kids showing up at the draft in hope of getting selected and end up getting hurt when their name never comes up."