By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
It was supposed to be one of the most exciting weekends of his life, but if anything, the 2011 NHL Draft started off a bit boring for Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defenseman was drafted in the second round (36th overall) on Saturday by the Chicago Blackhawks, but first he sat through a very long first round of the draft at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday.
“There was only one pick every fifteen minutes,” Clendening said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking as it got later because you think you might go, but my name didn’t get called.”
Clendening expected either his or teammate Matt Nieto’s name to be the first BU name called in the draft, but they were in for a surprise on Friday. Right before the 18th pick of the night, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that forward Charlie Coyle would be traded alongside Devin Setoguchi and a first-round 2011 draft pick to Minnesota in exchange for Brent Bruns and a second-round 2012 draft pick.
“We were all in shock,” Clendening said of hearing Coyle’s name first. “Me and Matt texted each other about it. I called Charlie to see if he had heard the news and stuff so I talked to him a little. He was pretty cool about it.”
The rest of the first round passed uneventfully for Clendening, who would have to wait one more night to hear his name called. Although Clendening had been a bit anxious Thursday night into Friday, the second day of the draft proved to be less nerve-wracking.
“You’re expecting to go as soon as you can, so on Thursday you’re thinking about the teams you have talked to and how your interviews have gone,” Clendening said. “Maybe they like you, maybe they don’t. Then on Friday you have to wait all the way until 7 o’clock just for the first round to get started. But on Saturday, you wake up and by the time you eat breakfast and put on your suit, the second round starts.”
Clendening did not have to wait long to hear his name called on Saturday morning. The Blackhawks picked Clendening with the sixth pick of the day. He was the first defenseman selected by Chicago, who seems to have more room at the blue line after trading veteran Brian Campbell to Florida on the first night of the draft.
“It was a blur,” Clendening said. “You put the jersey on, the hat on, and you meet all these people. You never really get a chance for it to sink in with all the stuff that is really rushed right after.”
After Clendening took the trademark picture on the podium with the Chicago brass, he was whisked away for interview, pictures, and autograph signings. He said he first learned that Nieto had been drafted (47th overall by the San Jose Sharks) when he was walking down a hallway and Nieto was coming the other way with a jersey and hat on. Clendening said the two yelled congrats to each other, but did not have time to reconcile until later.
Nieto was not the only BU representative in Minnesota. Coach Jack Parker also made the trip to the draft.
“It was the first time that he’s came in a really long time, so it meant a lot,” Clendening said. “He wasn’t even there when Colin Wilson was getting drafted and he went early in the first round. Just having the support there and knowing he was by your side, you weren’t by yourself.”
Clendening was also joined in Minnesota by his family, who kept him busy outside of the draft. They visited the Mall of America (“a little too much mall for me,” Clendening noted) and some of the shops and restaurants in the downtown area to keep his mind off the draft.
For Clendening, the best part of the weekend aside from getting picked was walking around in the jersey and hat and having people realize that he was an actual draft pick.
“People recognize you and they’re like, wow, you’re a part of the Hawks,” Clendening said. “I think that’s when it just kind of hits you there that you are part of an NHL team.”
Clendening plans to have a quiet rest of the summer before returning to BU in the fall. He said he will attend the Blackhawks development camp in about a week and will spend the rest of his time at home.
He’s working on becoming a more efficient skater so that he can take on a bigger role for the Terriers in the fall and will be able to handle more ice time. Clendening also said he is excited that he does not have to worry about getting drafted anymore.
“You always have that in the back of your mind, like oh, I’m going to get drafted, who’s here watching me tonight?” Clendening said. “The team still pops in once in a while, but it’s not like you’ll have 10 or 15 guys a night watching you play. I think just being able to be relaxed and go out there and play and not have anybody really focusing on you makes it a lot easier to go out and play not carefree, but with a more carefree attitude.”
But more than anything, Clendening said he is excited to get going again at BU after a disappointing finish last season.
“Hopefully we’ll do better this year,” Clendening said. “We got knocked out pretty early last year, so I think just to get started again would be nice.”