I was fist-pumping in my living room on Sunday evening when Warriors forward David Pope was drafted by the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.
Without question, hearing his name called by Detroit was a dream come true.
For one thing, he grew up cheering for the Wings and he’s a huge Pavel Datsyuk fan. But it’s deeper than that. Detroit is one of the most respected organizations in the game, with a long, winning tradition. And you think of all the great teams they’ve had in recent history? Yup. Built from the draft up. Some were notable stars in Junior (like Yzerman). But they also snagged Datsyuk (6th round), Zetterberg (7th), Federov (4th), and Lidstrom (3rd) deep. This team scouts and drafts as well as any team ever has, so to be a part of their plan is a huge compliment to David. Warriors fans still get one more year to enjoy this young man, too.
Also congratulations to former Warrior Ben Betker, who was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. It was awesome to see Ben back on RLP ice at the Alumni game last month.
Check out the Warriors’ website for an official story on both.
Both of these players know that being drafted only means you’re in the system. It’s not an invite, or a call-up, or a contract. But it’s still a huge accomplishment, and a key stepping stone to pro hockey.
There’s also some sad news to touch on, as Dustin Cave has been traded to the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for future considerations.
‘Caver’ will go down as one of the most popular Warriors in franchise history, and his teammates and the fans will certainly miss him.
On the ice, he was a tough and reliable presence. He would do anything for his team and worked as hard as anyone.
But his true colours were off the ice, where he handled himself at all times with grace, maturity, and affability. I’ll give you an example. There are a number of wealthy but charitable players in the NHL have kids clubs that bring youngsters to games, help out in the community, etc. Dustin Cave had one in Junior right here in West Kelowna.
He really was one of those exceptional young men that touches the lives of people around him. He understood that hockey is the kind of mortar that can build the strongest of communities. I know he’ll continue to do that in Calgary and beyond, and I know the Warriors family joins me in wishing him well.