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Justice Marc Nadon drafted by Harper - and Red Wings?

10/03/2013 10:54 EDT | Updated 12/03/2013 05:12 EST
Canada's next Supreme Court Justice managed to mix two of Canada's national pastimes — hockey and politics — when he told MPs reviewing his nomination to the top court that he had been drafted at age 14 by the Detroit Red Wings.

That set some hockey fans scrambling for more details — and scratching their heads.

As Puckstruck.com's Stephen Smith wrote Wednesday night, the NHL draft started in 1963, when Nadon was 13, and there's no record of him being selected by any of the six original teams in the four-round draft.

Same for 1964, 1965 and so on.

Nadon told MPs Wednesday that when he was 16, his father gave him an ultimatum to choose hockey or academics, so he turned his attention full time to his books.

That decision led to a seat on the bench of the Federal Court, instead of one in an NHL arena.

And now he's set to take the bench at the nation's highest court.

But how to explain his claim that he had also achieved the dream of every Canadian boy who plays hockey, to be drafted by an NHL team?

Smith has some thoughts.

"[I'm] wondering whether he was scouted and/or had an offer extended by the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, a Junior B team in the early '60s who were affiliated with the NHL club. That seems the most likely thing," Smith said in an email to CBC News.

Faced NHL-calibre competition

In a post on Puckstruck.com, Smith notes Nadon played for a midget team in Saint-Jérôme, Que. Smith was able to find one reference to a game just before Christmas in 1964 in which Nadon’s team beat Montreal-Nord 6-0.

"Nadon scored a goal and added an assist, which put him seventh in the league’s list of scoring leaders, with five goals and 12 points in 11 games. [He had also accumulated six penalty minutes.]," Smith writes on his site. "Notable at the top [of the leagues] that year: Verdun’s Guy Charron, who went on to play for Montreal, Detroit, Kansas City, and Washington."

So Nadon did face NHL-calibre competition as a young player, just not in the big leagues.

As Smith points out, players on junior teams affiliated with NHL clubs in the 1960s were signed to letters or contracts known as “forms.”

"An A form got you a try-out, a B gave the team the option to sign a player for a bonus. The C committed your professional rights to the team in question. You had to be 18 to sign that one, or if your parents were willing, they could do it for you," Smith wrote.

That's how the Boston Bruins managed to scoop up young Parry Sound, Ont., phenom Bobby Orr when he was in his early teens.

It may be that Nadon was referring to one of these prospects' contracts with the Red Wings' junior team — and, as Smith says, maybe as he was appearing before MPs on the second day of a new NHL season, he was remembering the past through slightly rose-coloured glasses, if not the precise language of a judge on the top court of the land.

A request to the Prime Minister's Office for more information was not returned. Attempts to reach Nadon were not immediately successful.

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