Who is the biggest draft bust of all-time?

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

There are many ways to write the introductory paragraph to a hockey mailbag. This is one of them.

Bonjour Adam. Here in Quebec we are having a tough debate on government money for a new arena for an NHL team.

Some people think taxpayer dollars should not be devoted to a playpen for rich athletes, but I think we need it because people around here have missed the Nordiques for too long. What do you think about this? Merci,

Marie Pelletier, Quebec City

Bonjour Marie,

I saw where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested his government was open to funding the construction of professional sports stadiums. I also saw Alberta premier Ed Stelmach recently shoot down cries for public money to help the Oilers and Flames build new rinks.

Personally, I lean toward funding of arenas as both cultural centers and places where jobs can be created. But I think we’re missing a larger point in this argument.

That point: what about federal, provincial and municipal funding to build new amateur rinks? Look around at the crumbling arenas across Canada and I think you’ll agree the hockey infrastructure for kids and recreational players needs help just as desperately.

That’s why I think it’s crucial the Canadian federal government convene a real, not-for-profit hockey summit that asks tough questions and seeks answers regarding all aspects of the game’s future.

If we really want to cackle and crow about our status as hockey’s homeland, we need to back it up with better support from the grassroots upward. Harper has no problem talking about his love for the game when it is politically expedient; let’s see if he can summon the courage to make his passion a priority.

Hello Adam. I think Ryan Leaf (San Diego Chargers, 1998) was the biggest bust in NFL draft history. (Honorable mention: Jamarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders, 2007) Who do you think was the biggest bust in NHL draft history? Doug Wickenheiser in 1980? Brian Lawton in 1983? Alexandre Daigle in 1993?

Sylvain Lacombe, Québec

Hello Sylvain,

For me, it would have to be Daigle - not only for the obscene amount of hype he failed to live up to, but also for dressing up like a nurse for an advertisement. I’ve been at photo shoots where NHLers think smiling makes them look weak, so I’d imagine Daigle’s decision must have set off alarm bells in every corner of Senators management.

That said, in addition to Wickenheiser and Lawton, there are others who deserve to be in the conversation, including Patrik Stefan and Greg Joly. And I hate to say it, but when do we start to mention Rick DiPietro?

Hear me out (and please, put the tops of your heads back on), Isles fans. I’m not saying DiPietro hasn’t been capable of great work. But if you consider the concept of a bust to be a player who doesn’t pan out and consider his rocky health history and tentative future - as well as the monstrous 15-year, $67.5 million contract that can hamstring the Islanders franchise as much as him not playing - I think you have to include him.

There’s little I’d like more than to see DiPietro complete a successful comeback. But sooner or later, you have to start calling a spade a spade.

Adam, when do you see the NHL expanding to countries in Europe (Sweden, Finland, Russia, etc.) if at all?

Scott Roblin, Okotoks, Alta.


For this answer, I’m dipping into Adam’s Haiku Hut for some assistance:

Mountains now valleys

Oceans deserts, daisies dust

Goodenow’s Commish

That, my friend, is when we’ll see NHL franchises in Europe. It’s just too costly a proposition at a time when the league has too many North American financial fires to extinguish.

Adam, this is a blast from the past somewhat, but something I'm still not sure I fully understand: Why did a legend like Brett Hull suddenly find his game to be obsolete after the 2004-05 lockout season and how has NHL hockey in general changed since then? Thanks so much!

Bridget Forte, Saint Louis, Mo.


You have to remember that, when the NHL returned in 2005, Hull was 41 years old - and, to be kind, let’s just say he wasn’t as keen on physical fitness as former teammate Chris Chelios. When it only takes you five games of the ’05-06 campaign to realize you’re done, you probably should’ve said sayonara during the lockout.

Hull quickly discovered just how quick the game had become - thanks to new rules and a focus on eliminating obstruction - and that’s what I’d suggest to you is the biggest change in the NHL today.

If you can, watch some old video of games from either the Dead Puck Era (1994-2004) or prior to that. You will be shocked at how slow the players look in comparison to today’s NHLers.

Follow Adam's hockey tweets at twitter.com/TheHockeyNews, and his non-hockey observations at twitter.com/ProteauType.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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