Josh Wesley doesn't have far to go for NHL journey
Posted June 28
With his father's jersey number hanging in the rafters at PNC Arena, the newest addition to the Carolina Hurricanes organization should feel right at home.
With the 96th selection of the 2014 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes took Josh Wesley, the son of Glen Wesley. It was a big moment for the player that grew up playing his youth hockey in North Carolina.
"It's absolutely amazing, all I can say is that I'm on cloud nine and I'm so blessed to put on the official jersey," said Wesley.
The waiting is usually the hardest part for players sitting at the draft but for Wesley, as he saw the Hurricanes pick looming in the fourth round, he had a feeling wouldn't have much longer to sit in the stands.
"When I started seeing the board and the names winding down and I saw Carolina was next, my heart just started racing," said Wesley. "As soon as my name got called it was just so... it was just like a weight off my shoulder, of finally, you get picked to an NHL team."
Glen Wesley wasn't that far away when his son became a part of the NHL. Carolina's director of defenseman development was sitting next to Josh for their big moment and to have his dad tell him how proud he was might have been as important as being picked.
This was something that was discussed by the organization. General Manager Ron Francis pointed out that some kids don't want to be in the same situation their dad was in because it puts a different kind of pressure on the player – but that was quickly put to bed. Francis talked with the older Wesley and wanted to know if he would be okay with the organization taking his son.
"I think you saw by the reaction on [Glen's] face today that he was more than okay with it," said Francis.
Francis also went to Josh's mom Barb, who told Francis that her son didn't just want to get drafted into the National Hockey League, he wanted to be selected by Carolina.
Josh Wesley knows that he will be in the shadow of his father, especially, playing in Carolina.
"It will be a little bit of pressure, I know that people are going to start comparing myself to him. I'm my own guy," said Wesley. "I know there's going to be pressure to make the team, to play under his banner. I'm going to be a totally different player, I may skate exactly like him. But I've worked really hard and I've got to where I am because of God and me."
Carolina head of amateur scouting Tony MacDonald made it clear why Josh Wesley was the pick for Carolina.
"We didn't take him just because he's Glen Wesley's son," said MacDonald. "We took him because he is a prospect and he's got some size and some skill and we feel that he's got some upside and we haven't seen the best of Josh yet."
Most players have no idea what they are stepping into after being drafted, Josh Wesley not only knows what it takes to be an NHL player, he'll know exactly where to go at the PNC Arena.
"It's kind of cool because I have been to a couple of rookie camps and just seen what that is like. I'm familiar with the locker room, I grew up in there," Wesley said.
He was quick to point out that having the lay of the land is nice, but it does not guarantee him anything.
"It's easier to walk in, but it is not going to put me higher than the others," said Wesley.
It also wasn't lost on the 6'2" defenseman that he was the first player to be drafted after growing up playing hockey in the Triangle.
"It's a huge honor, I know that a lot of the guys in Raleigh helped me to where I'm going to be." Wesley added, "Hopefully there is going to be a lot more to come."
For the younger Wesley, even though he doesn't see himself as the kind of player his father was – he compared himself to Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook – the connection to his dad will always be there.
Having donned his father's jersey from time-to-time, Josh Wesley will always be connected to the Hurricanes and the digit his father made famous in the triangle. But after Saturday it is on him to make the number he is issued just as recognizable to Hurricanes fans and if he goes on to have half the totals his dad posted, that won't be a problem.