Juraj Slafkovsky is going to have to learn to tie his own tie.
That’s one of the things I learned by watching the Welcome to the NHL special offering exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the NHL draft that was held July 7-8 at the Bell Center. The NHL Original Productions cameras followed five of the top prospects — Slafkovsky, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Canadiens, Logan Cooley (No. 3, Arizona Coyotes), Shane Wright (No. 4, Seattle Kraken), Christian Kyrou ( No. 50, Dallas Stars) and Jeremy Langlois (No. 94, Coyotes) — and their families as they prepared for the event.
Welcome to the NHL premiered last weekend in Canada on Sportsnet and is available on YouTube.
“It’s my first time wearing a suit today,” Slafkovsky says in his Montreal hotel room while getting dressed for the draft. “Usually I just wear suit pants and some golf shirts. I have never worn a whole suit… I’ve never owned a suit before and my dad did the tie before. Maybe I go in front of the mirror.”
Slafkovsky struggles with his pre-tied tie and has to call his father, Juraj Sr., to come to his hotel room to help him.
The tie wasn’t the only problem for Slafkovsky.
“In Europe, numbers my feet are (Size) 48 and these are 46,” he says with a chuckle about his dress shoes. “I already feel my heels… going to be a long night.”
With his suit on, his tie properly tied by his father and his feet jammed into his shoes, Slafkovsky took time to take a selfie in front of the mirror before leaving his hotel room.
“I just take one picture that I remember this,” he says. “I think I’m ready to go.”
It was a night Slafkovsky will never forget, becoming the first Slovakian selected No. 1 overall at the NHL Draft.
Canadiens fans will enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at the draft, including an interview with Slafkovsky from the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo. The Canadiens took Wright out for dinner at the combine, but not Slafkovsky.
“I didn’t have a dinner, but I think the talk we had tasted better than dinner,” Slafkovsky said about his meeting with Canadian management in Buffalo.
Slafkovsky had another meeting with the Canadiens in Montreal the morning of the draft, saying: “I’m expecting a lot of big things happening today. I had a meeting this morning with Montreal with the owner and president and GM and all those guys. It was a good talk, I think. We will see tonight.”
Slafkovsky’s personality is one of the things that impressed the Canadiens — along with the fact he is 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds — and it really shines through in Welcome to the NHL.
Cooley also met with the Canadiens and says they were the team that asked him the weirdest question at the combine.
“They asked me if I was an animal what would I be?” Cooley says. “I said a lion because I think everyone wants to be a king of the jungle and they said I couldn’t pick it.”
Cooley then picked a shark instead.
It was interesting to watch a meeting with Coyotes scouts and GM Bill Armstrong ahead of the draft talking about Cooley, who ended up taking Wright instead.
Some of the Arizona scouts responses when asked about Cooley were:
“Every time you go watch this kid play, you notice him. You never notice him.”
“His hockey sense was off the charts when he was a young kid.”
“He was so f—–competitive.”
“There’s zero risk with his compete or anything else like that. Is he not ideal size? Yeah, you’re right. But you know what, everything else about this kid is high end.”
“His hands and his vision are outstanding and he competes like hell and everything is done at high speed.”
The scouts agreed that if Cooley was available with the No. 3 pick, they “absolutely” wanted him.
Wright had 76 family members and friends in Montreal for the draft and watching him react to not getting selected with one of the top three picks was also very interesting.
“I’m excited to play (against) them now,” Wright tells his father after the Canadiens selected Slafkovsky.
After the Devils took Simon Nemec with the No. 2 pick, Wright tells his parents: “I’m good. Mark those dates (for games against the Canadiens and Devils).”
After the Coyotes took Cooley, Wright says: “That hurts.”
He’s told by his father: “It’s not when you go, it’s what you do.”
“I’ve got a little more motivation now,” Wright says shortly before the Kraken take him with the No. 4 pick.
After the Canadiens picked Slafkovsky, the giant left-winger got a chance to meet the management, scouts and head coach Martin St. Louis at the team table on the draft floor.
“Enjoy the moment,” St. Louis said to Slafkovsky. “An unbelievable accomplishment. So looking forward to working with you now.”
Maybe St. Louis can start by teaching the 18-year-old to tie his tie.
Spotlight on Canadiens’ No. 1 pick Slafkovsky | HI/O Bonuses
Stu Cowan: Juraj Slafkovsky makes big impression at Canadiens camp
Stu Cowan: Juraj Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar ready to grow with Canadiens