The 2022 NHL Draft was a very eventful time for the Montreal Canadiens and Jeff Gorton took some time to address some lingering questions.
During his visit to the Bob McCown Podcast, Montreal Canadiens executive vice president, Jeff Gorton, spoke at length about his appreciation for the city of Montreal and the energy felt at the 2022 NHL Draft. When asked to address how the Montreal Canadiens finally decided on taking Juraj Slafkovsky 1st overall, Gorton explained that it was a difficult decision that went down to the wire. In the end, Gorton and co. felt that Slafkovsky was too rare a player to pass up on in a draft that lacked a clear consensus 1st overall player.
“He’s a player that’s very difficult to find,” said Gorton on picking Slafkovsky 1st overall. “That size, that power, that skating. When we looked at him, yeah, he’s a big man, but when you look at his face, he looks like he’s 16, so there’s room to grow there. We all went to the World Championships and saw what he was able to do after the Olympics, and over time, he became a person we really wanted to have.”
Picking Slafkosvky wasn’t the only noteworthy thing to come out of the 2022 Draft however, as the internet was quickly flooded with video captures of Shane Wright‘s selection. The way the videos were taken, it appeared that Wright was staring down the Montreal Canadiens table, which was situated right in front of the draft stage. Gorton, having spent a lot of time with Wright over the last month, immediately brushed it off.
“No, I didn’t think it was a staredown. We spent a lot of time with Shane and I think he’s a terrific kid,” said Gorton on the supposed Shane Wright staredown at the draft. “We put him through the rigour and asked him a lot of questions. We spent some time doing video and going to dinner with him. He’s an impressive young kid. If he did, I have no problem with it. I saw the video of it, and people can make it look the way they want to. We didn’t see it that way.”
Although he didn’t believe that motion from Wright was intentional or in bad faith, Gorton enjoyed the joke of it all, pointing to some funny memes on Twitter that caught his attention.
“Somebody put out a picture on Twitter where they showed Shane allegedly stare us down and the other picture next to it was Martin eating a bag of chips saying ‘he doesn’t really care’,” said Gorton talking about the fan reactions to the perceived staredown from Wright.
In the end, Gorton said he felt confident about the Montreal Canadiens’ work at the 2022 NHL Draft and was excited about what this new crop of prospects could do in the near future. However, as he himself admitted, his work is far from over.
Death stare at the Montreal Canadiens table ☠️pic.twitter.com/JJzVXVUsnY
— Missin Curfew (@MissinCurfew) July 8, 2022