OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper's newest pick for the Supreme Court Marc Nadon says he did not lie to a Parliamentary committee Wednesday when he stated he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings at age 14.
On Thursday, Nadon confirmed he was never officially drafted to the National Hockey League.
"I wasn't trying to say that I was going to play for the Red Wings that year or something to that effect," the Federal Court of Appeal Justice told The Huffington Post Canada.
Nadon said his father had told him that he would be part of the Red Wings organization, and if in a few years he became a Wayne Gretzky-type, they would have a grab on him.
"But I never became a Wayne Gretzky so it never went any further," he said.
On Wednesday, Nadon told an Ad Hoc Commons committee reviewing his appointment that he was drafted by the NHL team as a young teen.
"During my youth, my ambition in life was to become a hockey player, which may seem surprising looking at me but those days were different. In fact, I was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings when I was 14," he said.
"However, around the age of 16, my father read me the riot act and said that I had to decide whether I wanted to study or play hockey. I opted for studying. It now seems I made the right decision," the justice went on to say.
Nadon told HuffPost Thursday: "I certainly didn't lie."
"I wouldn't have dared say that at 14 that Red Wings were going to consider me for their hockey team the next year. I would have been an idiot to say that. That's not what I meant," he said.
Nadon only meant that he was going to be part of the Detroit Red Wings' organization, he said.
"I was 14, my father was handling all this and he had told me that I would be part of the Red Wings' organization. So I used 'draft' in the way that I would have used it in those days, loosely termed to say that I would be part of the organization. The exact details I never knew exactly. So it wasn't a draft the way they are now, that you are drafted and you go and play for the Red Wings or — no, no, I was 14. So, it was employed very loosely. Not to imply that I would play for the Red Wings, that somehow I was part of the Wings' organization and I was a decent hockey player. That's really what it was meant to say, nothing further."
Smith of Puckstruck.com said Nadon would have been 13 in 1963, the first year the NHL convened an amateur draft, and he didn't figure on anyone's list. The next year, when Nadon was 14, Detroit had the first overall pick and chose Claude Gauthier, a Rosemount midget from Quebec, Smith wrote in a blog post.
Hockey historian George Fosty said Nadon probably showed "exuberance" by saying he was drafted. He suggested the Justice may have been screened or looked at by a pro coach or scout.
Fosty, president of the Society of North American Hockey Historians and Researchers, said it would not have been strange for a 14-year-old in the 1960s to be identified as a serious contender for a pro career someday, but the child would not have been placed under contract.
With only 400 players in the NHL in the 1960s and just six pro teams until the league expanded in 1967, only a very special talent would have been considered a budding star at such a young age, Fosty said.
"So that type of unique person… I don't think this gentleman fell under that category. It would have been highly unusual in the '60s to have that kind of interest," he said.
NDP justice critic Françoise Boivin told HuffPost that it is always a concern if someone misinforms a Parliamentary committee.
"We expect judges to be scrupulous in making representations to Parliament. I hope he'll take the earliest opportunity to clarify the details of his junior hockey career with the committee," Boivin said.
Nadon told HuffPost he regretted telling parliamentarians that he was drafted.
"I wouldn't have used that word if I thought this was going to be — for me drafted meant, was really meant in a really wide sense," he said.
"It certainly didn't mean 'drafted' the way it is used today — that I would be playing for the Red Wings — certainly not, I was 14. There were only six teams in the NHL. I would never have dared say that, or meant to say that," he said. "I didn't use the right term."
On Thursday afternoon, Harper officially confirmed Nadon's appointment to Canada's top court.
In a statement, the prime minister made no mention of Nadon's hockey history but said he had "every confidence" Nadon would "serve with distinction and honour."
Harper's office did not return calls for comment.
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