Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 10/27/11 at 05:07 PM ET
NEW YORK (October 27, 2011) – The Pittsburgh Penguins® have used Draft Day expertise to build two generations of championship teams, one of the NHL’s most passionate fan bases and one of North America’s most robust youth hockey communities. In June, all those elements will be on display when the Penguins and the City of Pittsburgh host the 2012 NHL Draft™ at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The 2012 NHL Draft will be held over two days. Round One, on Friday, June 22, will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET, and Rounds 2-7 will be conducted on Saturday, June 23, starting at 10:00 a.m. ET.
“The NHL is extremely pleased to be able to host this outstanding event in an outstanding city and venue—CONSOL Energy Center,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “The Penguins and the City of Pittsburgh have hosted many terrific NHL events, including last year’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, and I have no doubt this will be another exciting endeavor. Young players seem better-prepared than ever to take prominent roles on their new teams, and the Draft offers the opportunity for our fans everywhere to watch our prospects take the next dramatic step toward their NHL careers.”
The 2012 NHL Draft will be the first held in Pittsburgh since 1997 and the first League event at CONSOL Energy Center—the state-of-the-art building that opened in 2010 and is one of the most luxurious arenas in the NHL. The 1997 NHL Draft saw forward Joe Thornton selected first overall, followed by his current San Jose teammate Patrick Marleau second overall. Olli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo and Eric Brewer rounded out the top five selections in 1997.
“On behalf of the City of Pittsburgh and the hockey fans of Western Pennsylvania, we’re excited to be hosting the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center,” said David Morehouse, CEO of the Penguins. “Pittsburgh again will become the center of the hockey universe for one of the most important weekends on the NHL calendar, as our teams select the next generation of NHL stars. Much as we did with the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, we look forward to turning the week leading up to the draft into a celebration of hockey – especially youth hockey here in Pittsburgh.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup® Champions in 2009 and perennial Eastern Conference contenders, have a strong nucleus of players selected high in previous NHL Drafts. They have six first-round draft picks on their current roster – including captain Sidney Crosby (first overall, 2005), Marc-Andre Fleury (first overall, 2003), Evgeni Malkin (second overall, 2004), Matt Niskanen (28th overall, 2005), Brooks Orpik (18th overall, 2000) and Jordan Staal (second overall, 2006).
The impact of the Penguins’ success—both in winning consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992 and the club’s on-ice resurgence, which started in 2006—has spurred enormous growth of the game at the grass roots level in Pittsburgh. Since Mario Lemieux was drafted by the Penguins in 1984, the number of indoor ice arenas has quadrupled, while minor hockey participation among 5- to 8-year-olds has increased by 61 percent since 2006.
At the 2011 Draft, four players from the Pittsburgh area were selected in the first 64 selections. Forward J.T. Miller became the highest-drafted Pittsburgh amateur hockey player in NHL Draft history when the New York Rangers made him the 15th overall selection of the 2011 Draft. He was followed by goaltender John Gibson (Pittsburgh, PA, 39th by Anaheim), forward Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, PA, 43rd by Chicago) and forward Vincent Trocheck (Pittsburgh, PA, 64th by Florida). Prior to moving on to junior hockey, Miller, Gibson and Saad all competed for the Pittsburgh Hornets organization.
The NHL Draft offers the opportunity for hockey fans to get a glimpse of the next wave of NHL stars. Recent overall No. 1 picks currently starring in the League include Alex Ovechkin (Washington, 2004), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh, 2005), Erik Johnson (St. Louis, 2006), Patrick Kane (Chicago, 2007), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay, 2008), John Tavares (NY Islanders, 2009), Taylor Hall (Edmonton, 2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton, 2011).
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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