Ryan Fitzgerald became the second generation of his family drafted into the NHL Sunday night, when he was selected by his hometown Bruins in the fourth round (120th overall).
Following in his father’s footsteps (Tom Fitzgerald was drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round in 1986), the Boston College-bound North Reading native realized a childhood dream, joining the team his father finished his NHL career with in 2006. He also got to share the moment with his dad, who was working the Pittsburgh Penguins’ draft table in his capacity as the team’s assistant general manager.
The family connections don’t stop there. His uncle, Scott, is the Bruins assistant director of amateur scouting, so it truly was a family affair.
Fitzgerald, who skated last year with the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, graduated from Malden Catholic and, while skating with the Lancers, was part of back-to-back MIAA Super 8 tournament championship teams in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
We caught up with Fitzgerald Monday morning to get the wrap on his draft night experience:
On waiting to hear his name called: “It’s a long night. I was sitting there with my brother, Casey, and his friend, Andrew Brandano (player at St. John’s Prep). My dad was on pin and needles all night, definitely a little nerve-wracking for him. He stayed on the floor the first round, and then came up to sit with us for the second, third, fourth rounds. When it finally happened, it was a big sigh of relief for him.”
On whether he knew Bruins would be destination: “With my uncle, I’m pretty familiar with organization. It’s a team that I talked to a lot during the process. I thought they might be a team that was interested in me. I met with them at the draft combine and met with a bunch of their local guys. I came out and trained with them one time, so I knew they were interested. My uncle told me they had a close eye on me. It’s really a great honor.”
On the draft day experience: “When you walk into the rink, it’s amazing. You’ve seen it on TV, but it’s completely different in person. It’s just a great atmosphere. You wouldn’t think that it’d be that rowdy at a draft, but the fans show up and they get into it. It’s great.”
On what his brother, Casey (also a BC commit), means to him: “He’s been great. He’s a great brother and he was really supportive through everything. He always is. His draft is coming up soon, so he got to sit back and take it all in. I’ll be there for him when he goes through it, too.”
On which team he was rooting for in Eastern Conference final: “You’re always a Bruins fan, growing up here, but you’re a part of the Pittsburgh family with my dad working for them. But when they played the Bruins, it was a stressful time in the Fitzgerald house. After the Bruins won, it was tough, but we wanted the Bruins to win [the Cup] because of my uncle. We were rooting for the team and for him to win it.”