DENVER (CBS4) – It’s been a whirlwind the last few days for the Colorado Avalanche’s first round draft pick from this year, 18-year-old Conner Bleackley.
“It’s been pretty crazy between going to Philly and being here today, but I couldn’t be happier,” Bleackley said on Xfinity Monday Live!
Bleackley is a life-long Avs fan and said he couldn’t have been more excited to have his favorite player growing up, Joe Sakic, announce his name at the draft.
“I knew it was a pretty strong possibility they would call my name, and as soon as they said Red Deer Rebels (of the Western Hockey League), I don’t think I even watched,” Bleackley said. “I just heard it and then I stood up and gave my mom a hug and worked my way down the line. It was pretty special to have my family there and share that moment with them.”
Bleackley said it was a long walk up to the stage after Sakic announced his name and his mind was “pretty blank.”
“I remember going down the stairs and taking off my jacket and saying, ‘Don’t trip.’ I didn’t want to fall and make a fool of myself. And once you get down there they tell you to slow down so you kind of got to do a strut there … it’s a pretty surreal moment.”
Bleackley said it was an emotional moment for his mother.
“She told me before that there was no way she wasn’t going to cry. I think there were some tears for sure. It just kind of goes into the emotion of the event.”
Bleackley said the first thing head coach Patrick Roy said to him was “congratulations, buddy.”
“I kind of only remember glimpses of the moment, it was that crazy.”
The 2001 Stanley Cup winning Avs team played a big part in Bleackley becoming an Avs fan, not only of the Avs, but of Sakic.
“I remember staying up late and watching that game, and I was only 5 years old, but from then on, and even before that, they were my favorite team,” he said. “In my first year of hockey we were called the High River Avalanche, so that’s kind of what started it. Then that happened, you know, Joe Sakic in the 2002 Olympics; I still remember how remarkable he was … it was pretty crazy, a dream come true to get drafted by them.”
Even though Bleackley grew up just south of Calgary, he was an Avs fan first over the Flames.
“It was always the Avs. Some people will ask me if I’m serious when I got drafted to Colorado that they were my favorite team, but they were right from an early age.”
Watch more of the video with Conner Bleackley in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com