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Landeskog’s NHL Draft Diary: Touched by the hand of Don Cherry

(Ed. Note: Gabriel Landeskog is a winger for the Kitchener Rangers and is expected to be a Top 3 pick in the 2011 NHL draft. He's agreed to write a few Draft Diaries for Puck Daddy before and after the first round. Here's the first entry.)

By Gabriel Landeskog

I am Gabriel Landeskog and here is a little recap of the past few weeks in my life leading into the NHL draft this weekend.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy.

We started out a few weeks ago with the scouting combine. We had a bunch of interviews and some pretty intense fitness testing. It was a great experience all that week.

After the combine, I did extra testing with the New Jersey Devils. It was one of the craziest fitness tests I've ever done. They had me and few other guys running on treadmills for as long as you could with the incline getting steeper and steeper, I didn't have a shirt on and had electrodes all over my body — I ran for 16 minutes with a huge increasing incline — which was the longest of anyone there.

Afterwards, the NHL hosted me, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Dougie Hamilton at Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston. I got stuck in customs and missed my flight to Boston. They said there was a problem with my visa and it looked like I was in Canada for too long (I wasn't). I got another flight and got to Boston after a few hours.

During the game I was kind of rooting for Vancouver but not loudly ... because we were sitting in the stands and Boston fans are crazy.

It was still a great experience. We got to meet the Sedins after the pregame skate in the locker room. My dad was in the background during the meet-and-greet and he said afterwards that I went from being a hockey prospect to a little boy — being a fan.

I'm Swedish and the Sedins are something like national heroes there. It's something that you can't control, but you get excited when you get to meet guys like this.

They told me to just enjoy the whole draft process and take it all in (and said it in Swedish). We also got to meet Tyler Seguin(notes). All I could think about was that he was in our shoes last year and now he's playing for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Also, while I was there I was on hockey night in Canada… there was one moment where Don Cherry was touching my shoulder and I was thinking, "Don Cherry is touching my shoulder, this is pretty cool."

After the game, I got some down time. I flew back to Sweden where my twin sister, Beatrice, and some other friends were graduating high school. My flight from Boston was a bit delayed, so I went straight from the airport in Stockholm to the graduation. Seeing my sister's graduation was really important because my family did a lot for me over the years, so this was something I had to do.

Last Thursday, I went to Miami with four of my closest friends from back home (Erik, Fredrik, Johan and Jesper), just laying on the beach for a few days. We rented a couple of scooters and went around town, saw the Miami Heat's arena and hung out on South Beach. My buddies are really into cars, and it was ridiculous how nice the cars are there, and because of my friends being car lovers I consider myself being a car expert now.

There are a lot of good-looking people there. It was great to kind of get my mind off the draft a little bit and relax a little bit. I had a tank top on the first day and got burnt and after the first day it looked like I had a tank top on even though I was shirtless, which was very embarrassing.

While my schedule has been insane, I wasn't nervous; I'm surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I wonder when I'm going to start getting anxious and nervous. I'm just really excited about the whole thing since the season ended. Even when I was in Miami, I knew it was four or five days days away but you can't really worry about it.

Now that I'm here and seeing the signs for the draft, it's becoming real. I have a dozen family and friends here so that's certainly helping.

I'll be back later with some more stories from draft week in Minnesota.

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