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NHL brings draft back to Pittsburgh

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Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

A dream scenario for the Penguins would be general manager Ray Shero taking the stage at Consol Energy Center to make the final pick in Round 1 of the 2012 NHL entry draft with a sellout crowd repeatedly chanting "Stanley Cup!"

The NHL will announce Thursday that its annual draft is returning to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1997. Commissioner Gary Bettman will be at the draft's site, Consol Energy Center, to formally confirm what had become his sport's worst kept secret.

The Tribune-Review reported July 27 that league officials favored the Penguins' bid for the 2012 NHL draft was favored over one by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Officials from the Penguins and NHL declined comment Tuesday.

Consol Energy Center, which opened in August 2010, will host to both days of the draft. Round 1 will be held on the evening of June 22, with the Rounds 2-7 to take place starting the morning of June 23.

The Stanley Cup Final generally wraps no more than 10 days before the draft, creating the possibility that the Penguins could figuratively own June by winning the Cup and playing host to the draft.

The organization is working on plans to create a summer hockey carnival around the draft similar to a slate of cold-weather activities that led up to the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field. Plans for draft activities will be announced at a later date, as will ticket availability for the draft.

An NHL draft could prove a financial windfall for the region, as large contingents of employees from the NHL's other 29 clubs, league officials, agents and draft-eligible players and their families will descend upon Pittsburgh in the days leading up to the event.

Minnesota public officials estimated that the 2011 NHL draft, held at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, brought approximately $10 million to that region.

Four Pittsburgh-born prospects were chosen at that draft in June, including three among the first 43 picks: J.T. Miller (15th overall, New York Rangers); John Gibson (39th overall, Anaheim Ducks); Brandon Saad (43rd overall, Chicago Blackhawks); and Vincent Trocheck (64th overall, Florida Panthers).

Saad began this NHL season with the Blackhawks before he was returned to his junior club.

The 2012 class likely won't produce that many Pittsburghers, especially not at the high level, but PIHL commissioner Ed Sam said the draft coming to the region will "shine even more light on the growing popularity of youth hockey" locally.

The NHL draft was first held in Pittsburgh at Civic Arena in 1997. Joe Thornton was the first overall pick that year, selected by the Boston Bruins. Other notable first-round picks that year were Roberto Luongo (fourth overall, Florida Panthers) and Marian Hossa (12th overall, Ottawa Senators).

The Penguins' first-round pick in 1997 was Robert Dome, whom they chose 17th overall. He would go on to score seven goals in 52 games with the team.

Additional Information:

Center of activity

Notable sporting events slated for Consol Energy Center:

-- 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament, second/third rounds (March 15-17)

-- 2012 NHL entry draft (June 22-23)

-- 2013 NCAA men's ice hockey semifinals/final (April)




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