For Alexis Lafreniere, June 26 was more than just a date circled on the calendar.
It was slated to be his moment – the projected No. 1 overall prodigy with franchise-changing ability stepping onto the stage, slipping on his new sweater for the first time.
Not just any stage, either.
The planned arrival of the next Great Quebec Hope inside a roaring Bell Centre was either a stroke of luck or a stroke of choreographed genius by the NHL to host the 2020 Draft in Montreal – a stone’s throw from the suburb where he grew up in Saint-Eustache, Quebec.
Draft week was quickly coming into focus. A dinner reservation was set for his family and the proud agency representing him in the Old Port. Key sponsor events were lined up. Family and friends were ready to snap up tickets.
And now ...?
The NHL officially postponed the 2020 Draft and Draft Lottery on Wednesday. With the season's end undetermined, it is unclear when either will take place, or if a scaled-down version will be required – like the one held in late July of 2005 in a downtown Ottawa hotel where the Pittsburgh Penguins picked Sidney Crosby coming out of the 2004-05 lockout-cancelled season. It is also unclear whether Montreal would still host the Draft, whether it would be open to fans, or whether it might be conducted via video conference online.
There is no doubt that would bring disappointment, but it’s a brave new world since the COVID-19 outbreak and Lafreniere says he isn’t sweating the details.