Bob Boyes is the father of 27-year-old NHLer Brad, a member of the St. Louis Blues currently playing his fifth year in the league.
At the NHL Draft in Calgary of June 2000, our entire family along with Brad's aunt and uncle, the billet family from Erie, Mich., his girlfriend, and his high school buddy were there to cheer him on.
What an experience it turned out to be.
Brad was slotted on the pre-draft lists anywhere from 16th to 24th overall. There had been a couple of teams that had come to our house to interview him and our family. In Calgary, all of the teams interviewed him but one, who had shown no interest at all.
We sat in the Saddledome along with all the other hopefuls and their families. We were told to sit in a specific area so the TV cameras would be able to find him more readily if his name was in fact called.
The draft began.
I had lots of gum in my pocket and kept putting pieces in my mouth as more and more names were being called. With the No. 8 overall pick, the Tampa Bay Lightning went to the microphone and announced, "From the Erie Otters…"
For a split second I stopped cold chewing my gum and waited in complete silence to hear the rest of the sentence: "…Nikita Alexeev." My jaw started working the gum again. The draft continued.
Then again another moment: The scout that identified and pursued Brad as someone one to play in the OHL was now working for an NHL team, and to make it even more intriguing, he went to the microphone to announce the pick!
In my mind, I pictured this scout giving a little background on how he selected Brad for the OHL draft and now was about to do the same for the NHL draft. How fitting.
Then he announced his pick — not Brad. More gum and a good workout for the jaw again!
We sat and waited. Picks No. 1 through 23 had come and gone. Was Brad going to be selected at all? I was just about out of fresh gum and the piece in my mouth was growing with every pick that Brad's name wasn't mentioned.
I remember thinking how nerve-wracking this process was. Looking at the floor where the teams had their tables, and where hockey people were whispering to each other, discussing players — kids really — and deciding their futures.
I remember thinking Brad was a pretty good kid and how this must be wearing on him. He had been slated to go higher than the 23 spot, but he still sat and waited patiently.
Then it happened.
"With the 24th overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs select from the Erie Otters of the OHL, Brad Boyes."
Wow! And more wow! The one team that showed no interest in him. The hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. The Toronto Maple Leafs that we watch every Saturday night.
Brad got up from his seat and hugged his mom, shook my hand and then hugged his sisters, brother, girlfriend, buddy, aunt, uncle, billets and left for the stage. My gum was getting a pretty good workout now.
We received congratulations from people around us. It was pretty exciting. To see your son's dream still unfolding on the stage of the NHL Draft was pretty cool to say the least.
After Brad was introduced on stage and did a quick media interview, he was escorted somewhere else in the arena. Those of us still in our seats were approached by a young lady from the Leafs and were invited to go with her to the private box they had reserved for the day. We all went.
Darryl Sittler was there along with some off ice staff members. Pat Quinn's mother was there as well. I spent time talking to her as her other son and I had been in a service club together.
The draft was continuing so members of the Leaf management team were not there yet. Shortly after we entered the suite, we were then invited to go see Brad in the media area.
Brad had the standard pictures taken with the Maple Leaf jersey on. then we were invited to sit with him to have a family and group pictures taken. It was all a very heady experience.
Then back to the box. By this time, the Leaf management team had arrived for a brief stay. They congratulated Brad again and our family on raising a fine young man, and that they were excited to have him in the Leaf organization.
Then it was back down to the floor for the management to continue the draft. We stayed in the suite for a bit, then left to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We were going to a nice steak house in Calgary and a very proud father and mother were paying!