A dream came true for me on July 21. as I was off to Dallas, Texas for my first ever business trip. As I landed in the deep heat of Dallas, I was greeted first by a driver my company hired to drive me to my hotel. The first 20 minutes I sat in the four-door Cadillac, I was starstruck about what was set to be an amazing weekend attending the Sports Management Worldwide Conference and covering the NHL draft for Last Word Hockey.
Once I got settled in I was off to a meet-and-greet at a bar in downtown Dallas. Over the course of the next three hours, I spent the night sipping on Bud Lights while mingling and getting to know other students attending the conference. My night took an unexpected twist when I ran into a man who introduced himself as Doug Marshall. Once Marshall and I got talking, he mentioned that he’s affiliated with one of the prospects and told me to call him when the player got drafted. After we finished talking, I sprinted three blocks back to my hotel and started doing my research on Cameron Hillis.
Friday morning came around, in other words, day one of the 2018 NHL Draft. It was about 7:15 a.m. I showered and put on my suit for the day, took a 15 minute walk in the humid, sticky heat of Dallas, a walk that I would regret. After a day filled with conferences it was time to board the media bus for the NHL Draft. I arrived at the NHL Draft with NHL GM’s walking right past me in the hallway.12 rows up from every GM in the NHL, I could hear the chatter of GM’s discussing who they planned to draft. I sat down with a drink and fries and took in the night.
By 10 p.m. the first day of the draft was finished, and I boarded the bus back to the NHL Headquarters hotel. I decided to hang around the lobby to try and grab an interview with players or GM’s. An hour went by and I was about to give up and call it a night to prepare for the next day. As I was walking out, I ran into the San Jose Sharks first round draft pick Ryan Merkley. Merkley, who was with his family, had an ear to ear grin while I interviewed him. He said that being drafted was “A dream come true.”
Saturday Morning I woke up, got ready and at 9:30 a.m. called down to the hotel and asked for a ride to American Airlines Center, the home of the 2018 NHL Draft. As I got in a black chevy suburban, I was mentally preparing for my interview which was inevitably going to happen at some point in the day. The day started off with a picture of me and the Stanley Cup and then a long day as the the second through seventh rounds would be held.
When I heard “With The 66th pick in the NHL Draft, The Montreal Canadiens select Center Cameron Hillis.” I knew that I have my interview locked down. I tried to control my excitement as a lifelong Canadiens fan. An hour later I got the call and went sprinting upstairs to go get my interview. I first introduced myself and congratulated Cam on being drafted. I had never seen a kid so happy.
“It feels like I just started playing hockey yesterday.” Hillis told me.
He was speechless and, as a late round pick, honored to be interviewed. I also ran into Alexander Alain another draftee of the Canadiens and got a question or two in quickly with his Russian agent translating for me.
It was a hot but overall enjoyable weekend in Dallas and I look forward to doing it all again next year in Vancouver.