Heartbreaking story on Connor Bedard emerges ahead of draft lottery

Heartbreaking story on Connor Bedard emerges ahead of draft lottery

Bedard is expected to get drafted first overall at the end of June.



There are so many statistics and facts about projected first-overall pick Connor Bedard. You know that he was the first player to earn exceptional status in the WHL after scoring 43 goals and 84 points in 36 games for West Van Academy Prep’s U18 team, leading the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) in scoring and earning MVP honours as a 14 year old.

While his playoff run with the Regina Pats of the WHL was cut short when his team was eliminated by the Saskatoon Blades, Bedard still put up 10 goals and 20 points in seven playoff contests, after racking up 71 goals and 72 assists in just 57 games for the Pats this season.

He was exceptional at the World Junior Championship and was named MVP after posting 23 points to lead all players, becoming the youngest player to receive such an honor.

This is what has been put out there ahead of Monday’s 2023 NHL Draft lottery. But then, Dan Robson came out with a moving story on why Bedard plays, but most importantly on the deep loss that drives the young phenom.

In a incredible article from the Athletic, Robson explains how Bedard is motivated to play for his grandfather, who was his biggest fan until he tragically passed away in a crash, “a car driven by an impaired driver collided head-on with Garth’s pickup truck.’

Bedard’s parents and the Pats’ front office kept the news hidden from the forward because he was playing hours after the death notification his dad had received on the phone that day. After the game, in which Bedard scored two goals and added two assists, earning first star honors in Regina’s 6-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos, the family told Connor about his grandpa Garth’s death.

“After the game, Paddock and coach Dave Struch brought Connor into an office where Tom, Melanie and Madisen had called in on speakerphone. The team booked Connor a flight at 6 a.m. the next day so he could join his family, but Connor balked. There was a game later that week and he intended to be there.

“Grandpa would want me to play,” he said.

Three nights later, Connor scored an overtime goal to beat the division-leading Brandon Wheat Kings. As his Pats teammates swarmed the ice, Connor pumped his right fist and pointed to the sky. His eyes welled as he spoke about his grandfather to the media via Zoom afterward.

“He’s definitely who I play for now and will for the rest of my life,” Connor said. “I know he’s watching me.”

This is what drives this young player… and you can’t find anything purer than this.

He will be a star. And yes, Grandpa Garth will be watching.