‘I checked the next day and saw I was picked’ – Colin Shields on being drafted and why the 2004 NHL lockout may have hindered his chances

By Alasdair Hooper

These days being a part of the NHL Entry Draft is a hectic affair, thanks to the internet and the power of social media.

But Belfast Giants forward Colin Shields, drafted 195th overall in the 2000 draft, didn’t even attend.

The 37-year-old – who has since gone on to become both the Giants and Great Britain’s all-time top goalscorer – became just the second British player to be drafted, after Tony Hand, when he was picked by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Colin Shields

“Back then the Internet was a new thing, there was no social media or smartphones, so I actually didn’t go to the draft,” Shields explained.

“Back then, especially, they said unless you were a top three or four round prospect it’s a long couple of days and you can possibly set yourself up for disappointment if you travel somewhere and you don’t get drafted.

“So I was at home in Scotland and then I checked on the Internet the next day after it happened and I saw I was picked by Philadelphia.

“My agent also rang me the next day and said that Philadelphia had picked me, they were happy and they sent me a letter and all that stuff.

“You get a little bit of a different feeling now because, with social media and stuff, it would probably be a little bit more public.

“I didn’t get the opportunity to go – I don’t really know if I would have gone.

“If I’d known I was getting drafted maybe I would have but I had heard a couple of different rumours about different teams that were interested in me and I was very happy to be a part of the Flyers organisation for my college career there.”

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 18th March 2017 – Photo by William Cherry
Belfast Giants’ Colin Shields thinks he’s scored past Coventry Blaze’s Brian Stewart but it is disallowed during Saturday nights Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena Belfast.

While Shields has gone on to enjoy a stellar career in ice hockey, the forward was unable to make the step up to NHL level – something he is understandably disappointed about.

He impressed during his college career, and in the ECHL, but it just wasn’t meant to be and he explained how the 2004 lockout may have had an impact on his progression to the top level.

“Unfortunately I went to a couple of camps and it just didn’t work out with the lockout in 2004,” Shields added.

“Whether it did or didn’t hinder my chances, I don’t know, but it made it difficult for guys and first year pros in 2004 and 2005 to get American league jobs or get opportunities because there was no NHL going on.

“I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not but, certainly, it was definitely an honour.

“It’s a massive moment in my career, and my life, to be only the second British player ever selected by an NHL team behind Tony and it’s something I will always look back and be proud of.

“The NHL was always my goal growing up to play at the highest possible level.

“If you’re a hockey player and your goal isn’t to play at that level then you probably should stop playing.”

Listen to the full SportSpiel interview with Colin Shields here

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