As the top pick in this year's NHL Draft, Nico Hischier wrote in the Players' Tribune that he is ready to fulfill his dream of playing at the highest professional level.
Growing up in Switzerland, Hischier didn't get to watch many NHL games because most were not being broadcast in the country. However, at a young age, he was able to don a Devils uniform.
"It's pretty cool how things worked out because this is kind of the second time that I was picked to wear a Devils sweater," Hischier said. "When I was nine years old, there was this awesome tournament in Switzerland - whenever your team entered, you got to be a random NHL team. Like with the full jerseys, with a name and number on the back and everything. For the whole tournament, you were that team. It was sick."
As the Draft Lottery was going on and Hischier could potentially learn his fate, he had trouble watching a stream while on vacation in Italy. Finally at the end, he was able to catch a glimpse of the draft order.
"In then end, the stream came back and I could just see the board with the logos," he wrote. "I saw New Jersey first, Philadelphia second, Dallas third. But at that point, I didn't really want to think too much. I figured that anything could happen."
After he heard his name taken first overall in the actual draft, he couldn't believe it and actually admits he "blakcked out."
"My mom was crying a little bit. My dad was very proud," he recalls. "They were teasing me, like, "See? Aren't you glad you didn't quit?" Because when I was maybe eight or nine years old, I came home from hockey and told my dad that I was done. I was having a lot more fun playing soccer and I wanted to do that. I actually told my coach I was done! That was it. Retired. I stopped playing for a whole summer.
Then, of course, after three months, it got cold again, and I saw all my friends playing hockey, and I told my parents that I was coming out of retirement."
Hischier said that the first NHL game he ever attended in North America he saw a recently drafted Taylor Hall play for the Edmonton Oilers. Now the two will be on the same club.
"[My friends]were messing with me, like, "Hey, now you can see Taylor Hall up close," Hischier said.