ANAHEIM – Two teen-age hockey players who are best friends having their dream-come-true moment provided by the same team only minutes apart is an enticing storyline in any language.
Maxime Comtois and Antoine Morand both speak English very well, but when they became the Ducks’ first two selections in June’s NHL entry draft, the duo suddenly became a hot topic of Quebec-based, French language media outlets.
Shortly after hearing his name in the second round as the 50th player taken, Comtois was talking with reporters when he heard a commotion.
“When I heard everybody screaming, I knew it was him,” Comtois said. “One of the guys for Anaheim just told me that they drafted my best friend. I was really happy. I stopped all my interviews to wait for him to come.”
Morand had been sitting with family near Comtois and his friends as teams quickly made their selections. And he saw that the Ducks had another pick just 10 spots after Comtois had his moment.
“I just wait my turn and when they called my name, it was just amazing,” Morand said. “It was a big year for us. It was stressful. Just to hear your name called, it’s all worth it. All the effort you put in.”
Their story isn’t new but it’s a warm one nonetheless. Two boys growing up miles apart meet as teammates on the bantam level and find a close connection on the ice and off. The bond is tested when they are drafted by different junior teams, yet it only grows stronger as time goes by.
Comtois and Morand both got their first glimpse of what life in the NHL could be like at the Ducks’ summer development camp in July. Now it is time to prepare for a 2017-18 season wherever that may be. It begins with the club’s rookie camp, which has sessions Thursday and Friday at Anaheim Ice.
The two are among 26 players who will have moments to show their best in front of the Ducks’ scouting staff and management when they participate in the four-team 2017 Prospect Showcase in San Jose, with games against Arizona, San Jose and Colorado.
Those contests may only show how much further along past first-round picks such as Jacob Larsson, Max Jones and Sam Steel are in their development. Or they could help answer how far away are later-round risers such as Josh Mahura, Marcus Pettersson and Andy Welinski.
So much work has to be done before either Morand or Comtois is actually playing in the league, much less together on the same team. But then neither could have imagined they’d both be drafted…