Fol­low­ing in fa­ther’s foot­steps

Four sons picked by teams their pops played for

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - NHLDRAFT - By Ira Podell

PHILADEL­PHIA — Fa­mil­iar names came off the NHL draft board dur­ing both days of the se­lec­tion process. Sons, cousins, and other rel­a­tives of hockey play­ers past were cho­sen in droves.

Now is the chance for them to make names for them­selves.

“It’s his ca­reer,” four-time Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Claude Lemieux said of his son, Brendan, who went to the Buf­falo Sabres on Satur­day with the first pick of the sec­ond round. “It’s time to step out­side my shadow and go play and be him­self.”

Three other sons were cho­sen on Satur­day dur­ing rounds 2-7 by teams for which their fa­thers played: Bos­ton picked Ryan Donato (Ted) No. 56 in the sec­ond round, Carolina selected Josh Wes­ley (Glen) with the 96th choice in the fourth round, and Daniel Audette (Don­ald) went to Mon­treal in the fifth round with pick No. 147.

The most in­trigu­ing fa­ther-son combo in the two-day draft was per­haps the Ka­pa­nens. Their con­nec­tion goes much deeper than just fa­mil­ial ties, be­cause when Pitts­burgh took for­ward Kasperi Ka­pa­nen in the first round on Fri­day, it gave new Pen­guins gen­eral man­ager Jim Rutherford the rarest of daily dou­bles.

The vet­eran ex­ec­u­tive also chose Kasperi’s fa­ther, Sami, in the fourth round (No. 85) of the 1995 draft when he was the gen­eral man­ager of the-then Hartford Whalers.

“Do you know any­one else who has done that?” Rutherford asked. “We drafted Sami in ’95, and he had his son in ’96. We used to watch him on the ice when he just started skat­ing, and now you end up draft­ing him.”

Rutherford spoke to Sami Ka­pa­nen about his son over the course of the past year. Sami is the ma­jor­ity owner and gen­eral man­ager of KalPa, the Fin­nish team with which Kasperi played.

“We had a good back­ground check on him,” Rutherford said. “We were sur­prised he was still there at 22. We had him rated a lot higher.”

Brendan Lemieux knows all about fall­ing and be­ing passed over by teams that his fa­mous fa­ther was as­so­ci­ated with dur­ing his long ca­reer. Claude Lemieux starred with the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche among sev­eral NHL stops from 1985-2003.

“I think it is a bless­ing,” said Claude, who was also a sec­ond-round pick. “I have noth­ing to do with Buf­falo. I know pretty much no one on the Buf­falo staff ex­cept for (coach) Teddy Nolan a lit­tle bit.

“Yes, it would’ve been nice if he would’ve got­ten drafted by New Jersey or Colorado or San Jose, but he would al­ways have to an­swer the ques­tion of, ‘Your fa­ther played here.’ I am happy that he is some­where neu­tral, and they took him for him.”

Wayne Gret­zky was among many for­mer stars who reached out to the Lemieux fam­ily while it was deal­ing with the dis­ap­point­ment of Brendan fail­ing to meet his goal of be­ing a first-round choice.

“Like Wayne said, ‘It’s just a num­ber. Go prove them wrong and make the best of the op­por­tu­nity,”’ Claude re­called a text say­ing. “You want to go to a team that re­ally wants you.

“Buf­falo had a re­ally high pick and they took a great player. The fact that they took him that early in the sec­ond means a lot to him.”

The Devils had the chance to grab Lemieux with the fi­nal pick of the first round on Fri­day, but chose cen­tre John Quen­neville in­stead. Quen­neville’s older brother was selected by Columbus in last year’s draft. His un­cle by mar­riage is Bos­ton de­fence­man Johnny Boychuk, and his sec­ond cousin is for­mer player and cur­rent Chicago Black­hawks coach Joel Quen­neville.

Ryan MacIn­nis, the son of Hall of Fame de­fence­man Al MacIn­nis, lasted a lit­tle longer than ex­pected be­fore he was fi­nally grabbed by the Ari­zona Coy­otes with the No. 43 se­lec­tion — the 13th pick on Satur­day.

Wil­liam Nylander (No. 8 by Toronto) is the son of Michael, who had 209 goals and 679 points in a 15-sea­son NHL ca­reer. Brendan Per­lini, the No. 12 choice by Ari­zona, fol­lows fa­ther Fred, who played eight NHL games with Toronto af­ter be­ing drafted in 1980.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

PHO­TOS BY MATT SLOCUM / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

John Quen­neville (left) of the Bran­don Wheat Kings and Fin­nish phenom Kasperi Ka­pa­nen were cho­sen in the first round by the Devils and Pen­guins, re­spec­tively.

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