Senators recover lost chance to host draft this year
OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators will get their chance to host an NHL Entry Draft after all.
After the labor dispute wiped out the Senators' chance to host this year's event, the team on Wednesday was awarded the privilege of holding the 2008 Draft at the Corel Centre.
On March 24, commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the 2005 Draft due to the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. After last Friday's ratification of a six-year deal, Bettman announced the draft would take place Saturday in Ottawa, but at the Westin Hotel instead of the Senators' home arena.
"Since this year's Entry Draft had to be restructured and streamlined, we want to return to Ottawa for a full and complete Entry Draft," Bettman said. "We know the Senators and Hockey Country will do an outstanding job of hosting all the exciting activities that provide so much enjoyment for our fans, and, therefore, we will be back in 2008."
"The city of Ottawa is extremely pleased to be partnering with the Ottawa Senators and the National Hockey League to bring the NHL Entry Draft back to our city in 2008," Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli said. "We welcome the significant economic benefit that the Entry Draft will bring to our city and the international attention and focus that comes with hosting this great event. We look forward to hosting the world and showcasing our great city, its facilities and our citizens."
More than 10,000 fans and 500 media members are expected to be present at the 2008 Draft, which will take place from June 21-22. The first three rounds will take place on the first day, while the final six will be held the following day.
"We are extremely pleased that the NHL has recognized the anticipation and excitement that Hockey Country fans had in having an NHL Entry Draft come to Ottawa, and in giving us the great opportunity to host another so soon," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said. "The draft is a significant event on the NHL calendar, and we're proud to welcome it this weekend. But a full-scale four-day event will truly showcase the city of Ottawa and the deep passion our community has for the game of hockey."
In addition to the actual draft, Ottawa also will host several public events in the two days leading in. The festivities will include the GM Sens Street Tour and a chance for fans to see the top-rated prospects expected to be drafted.