Saturday, I got a chance to watch a replay of the NHL All-Star draft. I for one think the format for choosing teams was just what the game needed.
I loved watching Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews squirm in his chair, waiting to see if his teammate Patrick Kane would pick him for Team Lidstrom, or if he would be separated from his Chicago mates and play for Team Staal.
When Kane bypassed Toews for Blackhawks teammate Duncan Keith and made dear Jonathan wait until the eighth round, I had to smile. Jonathan wasn't smiling. In fact, he looked quite miffed.
Don't get me wrong, I think Toews is a great player, but he could have been a great player for the Tri-City Americans before he took his talents to the NHL.
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The Americans took him with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 WHL draft. Shortly after he was drafted, he told me in a phone interview: "I hope to be able to help them in the next couple of years. I think the organization is on the upswing and maybe in a few years we can be a Memorial Cup contender."
We'll never know what could have been. Toews went to Shattuck St. Mary's at 15 and at 16, turning his back on a team that was desperate for his skills. Toews then decided to go to University of North Dakota, thus ending his relationship with the Americans.
Tri-City has moved on. The Ams have won three straight U.S. Division titles (2008-10), a Western Conference banner and a made it the WHL finals. It was long road to get there, a road that could have been paved with good fortunes behind a promising young player named Jonathan Toews.