The NHL Entry Draft is a big event — not just in ice hockey but in the entire realm of professional sports. Arguably the largest gatherings of “who’s who” in the business of ice hockey, “The Draft” is a gathering of owners, managers, sports reporters, and the freshest hockey talent on the planet. Big deals are made. But, more importantly, history is made.
The 2022 event will mark the 27th time that Montréal will host the NHL Draft — but this year is different. This year is special.
First, what’s The Draft?
The NHL Entry Draft is a selection process. Essentially, it’s an annual meeting in which every NHL franchise systematically selects the rights to available ice hockey players who meet eligibility requirements. During The Draft, teams take turns selecting amateur players from junior or collegiate leagues and professional players from European leagues. It is held once a year, typically in the summer months when the season has ended.
The first NHL Entry Draft (at that time known as the "NHL Amateur Draft") was held in 1963 at the Fairmount The Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal. It was held every year in Montréal for the subsequent two decades, eventually becoming an event that rotated between NHL franchise cities.
The 2022 version
The 2022 NHL Entry Draft will be held over two days: July 7 and July 8. NHL club executives, scouts, and coaches will be in Montréal at the iconic Bell Centre on the NHL Draft floor while thousands of fans and hundreds of print, television, and radio media are expected to attend.
After two years of hosting the event virtually, this will be the first “return to normal” for the event.
Selecting a host city for the NHL Draft is not an easy decision. With 32 teams in the league, the objective is to ensure each city gets an opportunity to host. Montréal is constantly throwing its name into the hat and, incidentally, was supposed to host the event in 2020. Because of the pandemic, the event offered digital editions for two years. The league waited for the right moment to return to an in-person event format and to return to Montréal.
“The return to normal has been so vital for people,” says Steve Mayer, Chief Content Officer at the NHL, “It feels like we’re back to hosting big events and The Draft is one of the biggest. It’s a celebration. And especially in Montréal. It’s a city that knows hockey so well. It’s a city where hockey is king. And this is exactly what we need right now. So, Montréal is a great destination to do this event—it’s meaningful.”
Naturally, we’re thrilled
An event of this nature brings enormous attention to a city. And Montréal is delighted to welcome attendees, whether NHL businessfolks or fans who simply want to feel the thrill of it all.
"NHL hockey is a major tourist attraction in the metropolis and Tourisme Montréal is happy to fulfill its mandate by contributing to the return of this event in our beautiful city," says Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. "We are thrilled to welcome back teams and players in the first sports city in Canada."
One more thing: Montréal picks first
For the first time in over 40 years, the Montréal Canadiens have the number one pick in the NHL Draft. This is the sixth time the Montréal Canadiens have had first selection, the last time being in 1980 when Montréal elected to take Doug Wickenheiser. Also worth noting is that, in 1971, the Montréal Canadiens selected a new player by the name of Guy Lafleur — a remarkable athlete who went on to have a legendary career with Montréal, winning five Stanley Cups with the team.
This year, we can expect history to be made again.
Event: The 2022 NHL Draft
Dates: 7 + 8 July 2022
Venue: Bell Centre
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