NHL.com- On the night the New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery and the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, general manager Ray Shero was out with Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic at a Toronto restaurant where some members of the media had also gathered.
Some began hounding him, asking, "Who are you going to take?"
Shero eventually gave in to one reporter and said, "OK, I'll write it down on a piece of paper."
He took out a pen and wrote, "Vontae Mack no matter what," folded the paper, and handed it over.
Instead of a scoop, the reporter received a reference to the 2014 movie "Draft Day," in which fictional Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver (played by Kevin Costner) wrote that message on a Post-it as a reminder to himself to select the player he wanted most in the NFL Draft.
Perhaps it's the fundamental familiarity with the popular culture with which his predecessor had eternally cut the cord that was responsible for plastering a shit eating grin across my face as I read this story. Maybe it's that the New Jersey Devils' current place in the standings has my ears prone to a perking for even the most inconsequential anecdote that features their General Manager. Whatever the case may be, the confidence that you would be crazy not to have in the man that flipped the franchise's entire script in two years time makes it so easy to appreciate - albeit in retrospect - Ray Shero's satirical nod to Kevin Costner's laughably unbelievable portrayal of personnel management.
I can't, in good conscience, act like the knot in my stomach wasn't large enough to hold a goddamn cruise ship at port as Ray Shero sauntered his way up to the podium on June 23rd. However, since going against all-too-conventional wisdom by skipping over the good ol' Canadian boy to select a smaller, more skilled center from a region that's not known for churning out top-end talent, he has given Devils' fans every reason to preemptively assume that each and every one of his decisions will prove fruitful.
The second the lottery balls fell their way, I personally wanted to see New Jersey pass on what's-his-insanely-fragile-and-punchable-face for Nico Hischier. That said, not even the most optimistic of fan could have imagined that he'd be centering the dominant top line of a contending team just nine months after Ray Shero was sarcastically passing his pledge of undying allegiance to a fictional pass rusher. That's a credit to the talent and maturity of the silky smooth Swiss, but it's also a credit to the man whose personality makes it even easier to sleep tighter given his increasingly accurate stamp of approval. He can replace the name Vontae Mack with any prospect of his choosing, because I'm on board with Ray Shero...no matter what.