Should Montreal be the permanent home for the NHL draft?

With lots of discussion around the future of the NHL draft, why not stick with what works? Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie discuss Montreal as a forever home.

Video Transcript

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Now, I know Montréal, being at the top of the draft board, certainly helped the atmosphere. But it didn't really need that, I guess. It didn't quite translate to TV, how raucous and exciting it was. But all the commentary on Twitter made it seem like Montréal was the perfect host for this because-- not just because it's Montréal or they had the first overall pick. It was very welcoming. Everybody was there. It seemed like a great venue. And it certainly played out that way in real time.

So one of the questions-- or one of the discussions that we've had since the draft is, should Montréal just be the permanent draft host? Should this be like the epicenter of draft night? I kind of think it should, for a variety of reasons, some of which we've touched on the top.

But also, it would be a big moment-- a big event for this city, that would be able to improve on it and make it better each and every time. And I just think the passion is there. I guess it was the perfect timing because Montréal had the first overall pick. But I don't even think it would matter. I think it would be a great event every time Montréal hosted because it's just an accessible, fun location, and there's going to be fan presence, regardless. Even if Montréal doesn't have a pick in the first round, I think it would be very, very exciting.

So your liver might disagree. But do you think Montréal should be the permanent draft host?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think it's a good idea, honestly. I think it's a great idea. I think of the 2009 draft, when it was in Montréal. And I think of a whole bunch of my friends in high school who-- even if they didn't have tickets to go inside, they have memories of being around the Bell Centre and seeing all these young draft picks like walking around the building and having photos with guys like John Tavares and Nazem Kadri and some of the older legends who were coming up.

And you're right. The fan presence-- it makes itself known. And that was in 2009. And in 2022-- yeah, all those people just outside the Bell Centre-- again, the fan presence of the Canadiens, but also other franchises, as well, just coming in and enjoying it.

And look, the Canadiens know how to put on a show. We've seen it with how they've handled other big events in and around the team throughout the season. They definitely know how to pull it on an NHL draft.

So I don't have a problem with that idea. I think the love fest was definitely amplified by the fact that it was the first in-person draft in a few years. But I also think, just kind of like how-- like in the NBA a lot, they'll draft a lot in New York, where-- a lot people see as the Mecca of. Basketball or the NFL will play around with different places, but they've also had it in New York.

I don't see any issue with having just one place. If they're equipped to host the spot, why not have it there? Especially at a passionate market like Montréal-- yeah, I could totally see it making sense.

And again, just seeing all the media people take advantage of the city and enjoy it. People love it, too. And I'm sure player personnel for NHL teams-- I think some of them like the idea of getting to hang out in Montréal for a couple of days and do things in and out of the draft as well. So yeah, I'll vote for it if there's a vote.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's hard to imagine anyone really disagreeing with it. As you mentioned, I think it caters to pretty much everybody who would be involved. And there was talk, at least before the smashing success that it was, that maybe they'd go back to the virtual draft. I think Steve Yzerman was saying how much easier, how much better he liked it the last two years when it was virtual.

The NHL is an entertainment business. It's not about what makes Steve Yzerman's life a little bit more convenient. So they have to make this into a show. And it can be a show. They just literally just proved it-- the other day, that it can be a very, very exciting product both in person and on television.

I heard Elliot Friedman talking about, like, oh, do you send all the players to Disney World? And you do it like the NFL, where the players go up but the general managers don't have to be there? Maybe there's a hybrid model. But if it's in Montréal, I think everyone's just going to descend on Montréal because there's lots of reason to want to be in Montréal in late June or early July.