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(Bruce Bennett/2011 Getty Images)
(Bruce Bennett/2011 Getty Images)

Teams load up on sons of hockey-playing dads on Day 2 Add to ...

People forget sometimes, when examining the blood lines of David Musil, the first player chosen Saturday morning in the second round of the 2011 entry draft, that he doesn't just come from a famous hockey-playing family.

Sure, his dad, Frank - aka Frantisek - was one of the first players to come over to the NHL from the former Czech Republic, drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1983's second round. Musil's uncle, Bobby Holik, was Jaromir Jagr's centre as a junior. His grandfather, Jaroslav Holik, played almost two decades for the Czech national team.

But Musil's mother - Andrea Holikova - was also a professional tennis player who once played the featured night match at the U.S. Open and took her fellow Czech Martina Navratilova to two tie-breakers in a memorable opening-round match.

David Musil played tennis until the age of 15, before focusing on hockey full-time and was saying Saturday, he wasn't sure how much of his gene pool he inherited from his mother's side: "Some, I think," he said. "I still enjoy playing tennis in the summer, when I have time, against my dad and my mom.

"I can't beat my mom. I'm even-up with my dad."

If there was a theme on the second day of the 2011 entry draft, it was the number of sons of hockey-playing dads preparing to follow in their father's collective footsteps.

David Musil's father, Frantisek, was drafted by Minnesota's original NHL franchise, the North Stars, in 1983's second round. Never one to avoid hyperbole, Lou Nanne, the team's general manager at the time, said he would have taken Musil first overall, if he wasn't living in what was then Czechoslovakia, behind the Iron Curtain, long before players were able to move freely to and from the NHL.

Musil needed to defect to get to North America - and it happened in the summer of 1986, when Nanne sneaked him out on a tourist visa - and it began a 15-year career for Musil as a solid, heart-and-soul defenceman, who never achieved star status. David Musil was born in 1993, when Frank was playing for the Calgary Flames. The elder Musil completed his career in Edmonton, eventually moved back to the Czech Republic and now scouts for the Oilers.

The Oilers clearly put a value on that sort of family connection. Two rounds after selecting Musil's son, they took Dillon Simpson, son of their former assistant coach, Craig Simpson, 92nd overall.

Simpson, who was also on the Oilers' 1990 Stanley Cup championship team, thought blood lines factor significantly into a players' potential, starting with genetics. He also believes players raised in a hockey environment have a clearer understanding of what the draft means - that it's a first step, but not an end in itself.

"For some parents, getting drafted is the most important thing," said Simpson. "But we know, the work is just beginning."

Not everybody believes in the importance of blood lines in the player selection process - Vancouver Canucks' general manager Mike Gillis said it was a non-factor in his organization's draft-day strategies.

But the Phoenix Coyotes' Don Maloney agreed with Simpson - that it was a consideration for his organization when it came time to evaluating talent. During Friday's first round, the Coyotes took Connor Murphy, 20th overall, the son of Gord Murphy, a long-time NHLer. Tyler Biggs went 22nd overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs, his dad, Don, played a dozen games for Minnesota and Philadelphia. Vladislav Namestnikov's father, John, played for the New Jersey Devils briefly and his uncle is Slava Kozlov. Namestnikov was the 27th player selected, by the Tampa Bay Lightning On Saturday, Kevin Lowe's son, Keegan, went in the third round, 73rd overall, to the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that has two Sutters, Brandon and Brett in the organization, plus the most famous of the Staal brothers, Eric, their captain and leading scorer. David Lowry, the Calgary Flames' assistant coach, saw both of his sons, Adam and Joel, selected - Adam in the third round to the Winnipeg Jets, Joel in the fifth round to the Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes also took Christian Ruutuu's son, Alexander, in the second round, 51st overall.

According to Maloney, heredity "factors into" the Coyotes selection process, "but really, it's more when you meet the player and talk to the player that you have a sense of his hockey IQ. With Connor Murphy, we just felt he had very good instincts, and you could talk to him about the game of hockey, and the roles people play, and he has a very insightful personality."

That, in turn, makes them more coachable players, according to Maloney.

"All you need to do is talk to him for 30 seconds and you'll realize, 'this guy understands hockey.' He enjoys talking hockey. He likes to talk players. He knows players. For us, right-handed defencemen are hard to find. We just like his size and range. He's a great kid."

After the Oilers picked him, Dillon Simpson was saying how he and Keegan Lowe "have known each other since we were babies, and been friends forever pretty much. We've been good buddies and been talking to each other and hanging out at the draft. It was great to see him get drafted."

And David Musil? "We were good friends growing up when we were younger and we kept in touch over the years. It was great to see him go to Edmonton as well."

As for David Musil, he said he had limited knowledge of his father's difficulties in making it to the NHL back in the Cold War days - or for that matter, of the draft itself. There was no Internet, no TSN, no free flow of information around the world. "He didn't even know he was drafted," said Musil.

But having a father who played in the NHL, he says, was invaluable in preparing him for what lies ahead.

"He's got a lot of experience, so whenever I need help, I know I can turn to him - and not just him, but my uncle and grandpa too. Both of them are hockey players. My whole family, it's all about sports, so if I need help, any of them are always there for me."

 

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