Alex Cotton saw it before anyone else did.
He was waiting with his family to see whether he would be tapped for the 2020 NHL Entry draft and before anyone else noticed, he saw his name come up on the video feed, and the name of the team that had drafted him.
“Oh, crap,” Cotton remembers saying. “Wow.”
“I was pretty shocked.”
It was a mixture of disbelief and delight at being picked by the legendary Detroit Red wings.
“It’s unreal,” Cotton told the Langley Advance Times.
Cotton was selected 132nd in the fifth round of the 2020 draft on Wednesday, Oct. 7. by the Detroit franchise that has been home to legends like Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio, to name just a few.
Cotton could, quite reasonably, expect to be drafted by an NHL team, given his outstanding record.
Listed 79th overall among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Service, the 19-year-old led all WHL blueliners during the 2019-2020 season, with 67 points, playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
He also finished second in goals scored by a defenceman in the league with 20.
But a shot at becoming part of “such a historic franchise” as Detroit was an unexpected surprise for the “super-excited” Cotton.
When he was younger, he disclosed, Cotton was a Toronto fan, but that has changed.
“They’re [the Red Wings] my favourite team now,” he commented.
He expects he will play at least another season with the ‘Canes before he gets to try on a Red Wings jersey.
Being passed over in his first year of eligibility proved to be a powerful motivation for Cotton, who devoted the time between seasons to an intense schedule of two workouts a day, plus one skate.
At 6’2” and 183lbs. Cotton has done some growing since he was initially signed by the Hurricanes as a 5’11” 150 lb. defenceman from the Yale Hockey Academy Bantam Prep, selected in the fifth round draft (99th overall) in 2016.
In April, he was named to the WHL Eastern Conference Second All-Star Team.
READ MORE: WHL cancels playoffs
But then, in March, the WHL Board of Governors announced the remaining 54 games on the 2019-20 WHL Regular Season schedule would be cancelled and not played because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need prevent its spread by avoiding large gatherings.
A few days later, the WHL playoffs and championships were also cancelled.