A fried of mine, let’s call him K-Hof, and I were in my basement on the weekend looking through a box of my old collectibles. I had some Kraft dinner boxes with NHL player card on them, cereal boxes commemorating Wayne Gretzky’s achievements, even a cereal box welcoming the Vancouver Grizzlies to the NBA.
I also had a pile of old Hockey News magazines, http://www.thehockeynews.com/ from many years gone by. I picked up a back issue to explain to him why I felt I needed to keep this issue (since all the info is online already) and I flipped open the 1999 Future Watch issue to see who THN was predicting would be the next round of stars in the NHL.
Sure enough, there under the 24th pick in the NHL draft was the player the Toronto Maple Leafs took. His name was Luca Cereda (born September 7, 1981). He was playing in Switzerland at the time the Leafs took him so high in the draft, and many questioned the pick (well maybe everyone questioned the pick) as Switzerland is not exactly the hockey hot bed for budding stars.
“Maybe the Leafs got Switzerland confused with Sweden?” my friend said aloud.
I laughed, thinking that was totally plausible, knowing the Leafs.
“Cerada”, I told him, “Is retired. He was drafted in the first round, 24th overall, of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He came to training camp and 2 days into camp was sent to a specialist after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. He had surgery in Toronto and never played hockey again.”
“Ohhh”, my friend replied. “That’s really too bad. I suspect he would have played great in the neutral zone”.
Neutral zone… Switzerland…
If not, comment and I’ll explain further.
K-Hof, you rock!