DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars made history at the NHL Draft on Saturday by becoming the first team to ever pick a Jamaican-born player but narrowly missed a chance to take a player from their own backyard.
After taking Canadian center Ty Dellandrea with their first-round selection on Friday, the Stars continued to lean on offense with six of their seven picks on Saturday going that way. The three who were present at American Airlines Center said getting drafted by the host team made the day even more special.
"It couldn't be better, getting picked by Dallas in Dallas," marveled second-round selection Albin Eriksson, a right wing from Sweden. "It's just amazing."
But for one parent, his son was picked at precisely the wrong time!
"My dad actually went to the washroom, so he wasn't with me," said fifth-round pick Riley Damiani, a Canadian center. "It was just my mom and then I had to head down so I kind of missed him. But I'm sure he's proud of me and I'll talk to him [later]."
While the players were the stars of the day, they know they would never have gotten to this point without a lot of support from family, coaches, and friends.
"[My family has] been my rocks," noted fourth-round selection Curtis Douglas, another Canadian center. "They've been keeping up with me taking shots in the garage since I was five, [making] that annoying sound all day; the annoying drives to the rink everyday, and just having to put up with me in general. They've done a great job and I couldn't thank them enough for it."
One player thanked the Stars for helping him get drafted even though he wasn't picked by them. Southlake's Ryan O'Reilly played in Dallas' development ranks and was recruited to the University of Denver by Jim Montgomery, who left the head coaching job at Denver to become the Stars' head coach last month. Dallas might have taken O'Reilly in the fourth round if not for the Detroit Red Wings netting him two picks ahead at No. 98 overall. But O'Reilly is familiar with Detroit thanks to playing Pee Wee hockey there, so there were no hard feelings, only excitement.
"We used to practice at [the Red Wings' old arena]," said O'Reilly. "We used to get to see some of the pro guys there and be around [them], so it's pretty awesome to be able to go to Detroit."
So a missed opportunity for DFW to see a homegrown player join our hometown team, but overall the Stars are happy with their haul.
"You always talk about hockey sense, you talk about skating, but character traits are important, also," noted general manager Jim Nill about the mental makeup of his new players.
Hopefully at least some of them pan out so the Stanley Cup can visit Dallas a little more often!