Ryan’s Rant - Major Junior Hockey and The NHL Draft

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By Terry Ryan

Hi folks, for this rant I have once again included an excerpt from the book I am writing: "Tales of a First Round Nothing". I am getting decent feedback from these stories and this is an old classic I have been known to throw around in dressing rooms/at Pubs/at Shed Parties across Canada with my buds. Brad Leeb remembers me telling this one on the bus in Red Deer I am sure.

The following is the story which has become my “go-to” and usually gets requested at the odd shindig. I remember it like it was yesterday.


  Tales of a First Round Nothing By Terry Ryan


BetOnHockey Ryan NHL Draft 350x479.jpgIt was about three days before the 1995 NHL Entry Draft in Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton as a location was very fortunate for guys in my team and league, as the WHL had many fans and representatives for the simple fact of geography if nothing else. Most NHL teams had entire rooms booked for the week and if you happened to be a possible draft pick, a player of interest (especially a high one), then the chances were that you were gonna be interviewed in one of the rooms by the brass of that particular organization. We had numerous players draft eligible on our TRI CITY AMERICANS squad, two of which would end up being selected, in addition to myself, in the 1st round (Brian Boucher #21, Daymond Langkow #5). Lanks was FROM Edmonton so come draft day we would have a bigger cheering section than most. But that’s here nor there…..

I remember doing a lot of the pre-draft stuff with Daymond, maybe because we played on the same line that year. A few of those “interviews” stand out. New Jersey, for example, was basically a fitness test culminating with the dreaded Vo2 max challenge. I considered this torture - you start at a light jog on a treadmill with a tube in your mouth and the machine picks up it’s grade and speed with each minute and you don’t jump off until you literally can’t go any more! This, for me and many others, meant blurred vision and dizziness at the end because of the competition between players, especially at an event like this. Washington? That consisted of MANY interviews which were mainly directed at I.Q. type stuff and if they REALLY liked you they would actually fly you down to Washington for further questioning. This was actually a blast and we had a great group when we made the trek to D.C., around 15 of us and we made the most of it to say the least.

Anyway, things were getting monotonous and Lanks and I were in the midst of what seemed like our 100th interview answering what seemed like our millionth question….

Q: Are you a follower or a leader?

A: I lead by example. The only place I comes before TEAM is in the dictionary and I do whatever I have to in order to get that message across to my coaches and teammates.

Q: So, do you drink alcohol?

A: Not really. I have a few times if we are together on a bus trip. Team bonding type stuff.

Q: Do you have good morals and values and what are some hobbies??

A: Well I am glad you asked. I would think I do have good values as I was brought up by great parents. Hobbies? I like to read. In fact, last night I realized I forgot my books at home so I went back to my hotel room and read the Bible…..again. Did I mention I give 110% every night??

And so on, and so on, and so on. I mean you are 18, there is only so much you can add to these answers to spice them up!


BetOnHockey Langkow NHL Draft 350x478.jpgI called my agent, Mike Barnett (Lanks and I also were both represented by Mike, as well as WAYNE GRETZKY, BRETT HULL, and numerous others!!) and he confirmed the fact that I had only 2 interviews left, one with the New York Islanders that would be conducted by Mike Milbury and one with the Tampa Bay Lightning that would take place with the legendary Phil Esposito. I told him to call the Islanders and tell them I would be right up.

Five mins later I was at my meeting. I walked in and took a seat at the far end of the table, noticing the other end was the only other chair open, all the scouts/brass were sitting around the table, it was long and oval and the room had a conference room feel to it. These guys seemed to like me at first and the interview was going better than average if I do say so myself and I hate to act like I wasn’t still in awe of the situation but it was getting hard to answer the same questions over and over and these guys were picking topics I had’t discussed yet. Beautiful….like a breath of fresh air.

After what I would guess to be 15 - 20 minutes, I the room went silent and I heard footsteps coming in form the adjoining room. Closer….closer..closer….and there he was. It was the GM of the New York Islanders himself, Mike Milbury. He had a presence about him and immediately started asking the non-sugar coated questions and throwing out comments I had yet to hear from the big boys. “ You skate faster with the puck than without it “, he said first.

“Ok, I never noticed”.

“And you sure benefited from playing with Daymond Langkow the whole year”, was his next dig.

“Well I like to think he benefited from playing with me too, Mr. Milbury”, I said with open eyes and a ‘who me’ look on my face.

“ And finally “, he says, “ I heard you had a good tilt with Wade Belak (Belak was one of the WHL’s most feared players and was a legitimate heavyweight. Out of my league but I hung in there with him once that season and never fought him again because the fight legend was gaining momentum and I didn’t want to ruin it by getting my ass kicked, which was very likely), but do you think you could do it again?”

I was getting annoyed, but I knew he was testing me. He was a former player and was doing exactly what I would do if I was in the same situation with a young smart ass in front of me today. Getting a feel for me. I was intrigued and accepted his challenge.

“ Mr. Milbury, you don’t have to pick me then. You are picking at Number 1, where I KNOW I am not going. Your next pick is at number twenty something and I sure as hell KNOW I am not going there. Judging by the central scouting ratings I will probably fall somewhere comfortably in the middle. There is probably a better guy for you in this draft pool than me obviously…”

The tension was building.

“Ok kid,” he says. “It’s 10:50 and you have just been out with a couple girls, you and that Langkow kid, because I know you guys hang out. Lanks leaves with one and you are left with the other. It’s a 10 minute drive home and curfew is at 11:00, but she invites you to stay for a few minutes and you know if you do you will get lucky. Remember, It’s a 10 minute drive! What do you do, kid?”

I swear to God the answer popped into my head immediately like I had been waiting to hear those words my whole young life.

BetOnHockey Ryans Rant NHL Draft 350x526.jpg“Well Mike,” I say, now choosing to drop the ’Mr. Milbury moniker and taking a sip of my bottled water briefly so as to build the suspense, “I bang her for 5 minutes and then I SPEED home!!”

And with that my meeting was over, and half the people were laughing and half were looking at each other in disbelief!! I was told to leave, and for good reason!! An honest to God true story and looking back ,the ’5 minutes’ comment probably sounded cocky coming from a kid, but I don't regret it. I mean big deal, I was havin' a bit of fun after a long week.  Like they say; relax, it's only a game.…….. 

…Right after the Milbury interview I had my last meeting with hockey legend Phil Esposito. Mr. Esposito was with Tampa Bay and it was my favorite meeting, because of his honesty and the fact that he was a legend and Canadian Icon. His brother Tony was present as well, one of the best goalies ever so it was all a little surreal.

I walk in the room, Espo sits me down and says, “Kid, I heard about the answer you gave earlier. Great stuff! By the way, How far apart does Napoleon sleep from his wife?”

“A Bonaparte”, I answer back, again ready for the challenge (That one was obvious though).

“Ha! Awesome kid, good answer. Now I am going to be honest. We are not looking at taking you at 5th overall but we are very interested in your pal Daymond Langkow. What can you tell me about him?”

“Well, Mr. Esposito”, I start as the answers seem rehearsed now, “He is a hard worker, great shot, tough, great in the dressing room. He is a great fit for any organization I think, and ….:”

“Listen Terry, I mean what kind of guy is he? Do you trust him and do you guys hang out? Is he hung up on women? Does he handle pressure well? And you can call me Espo.

“Well Espo, the guy is a great friend, hockey or no hockey. He is a trustworthy person from a great family and his determination to succeed has never been second guessed by anyone who I have known who has spent any time with him during our 3 years together”.

“Good answer kid. The interview is over, but feel free to hang out with Tony and I for a bit and we can chat a little”.

I started with the 1972 Summit Series and must have worn out the poor men with questions as for the next hour I sat and shot the shit with 2 guys who were almost 40 years my senior and who had very little in common with me….except the fact that we were hockey players. And that was all we needed.


Check Back Every Week For 'Ryan's Rant' By Terry Ryan

Also watch for Terry Ryan's book, 'Tales Of A First Round Nothing'



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