Published in the Rivertown Times | Written By Ron Giofu
When Aaron Ekblad takes the stage at this Friday night’s NHL Draft in Philadelphia, his clothing will have an Amherstburg connection.
The Jack Victor suit Ekblad will be wearing has come from 67 Richmond St. with Ekblad being in the Amherstburg clothing store last Friday afternoon for his final fitting. Ekblad, a Belle River native, could go as high as number one in this Friday’s draft.
“Mr. Pete Leardi has been helping me out with it,” Ekblad said, referring to 67 Richmond St.’s owner. “He’s such a good man and he’s really helped me over the years inventing my style. I like to be a little bit flashy here and there but it’s good to be simple and elegant as well.”
The draft will be “pretty special” for the 6’4”, 215 lbs. 18-year-old defenseman.
“It’s an anxious time for me and my family. We’ve been working for this my entire life,” he said.
Ekblad said he has visited with representatives with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers but, as of last Friday, had not heard from anyone from the Florida Panthers or Buffalo Sabres, owners of the top two picks. He said regardless of who selects him, he will be aiming to make the NHL next season.
“I’m going to be happy to go anywhere,” he said. “I just want to play in the NHL.”
While the draft is important, Ekblad added it doesn’t overshadow what he has done on the ice. He has played the last three seasons with the OHL’s Barrie Colts and was also part of the Canadian team at the World Junior Hockey Championships last season.
“(The draft) is a cool thing to be a part of but I think on-ice accomplishments are more rewarding, for sure,” said Ekblad.
Leardi stated that having Ekblad in the store was important for him, as well.
“This is special, for sure,” said Leardi.
Fellow draft hopeful Hunter Smith has been in the store, Leardi said, as has Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice. New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique has been a customer at 67 Richmond St.’s Tecumseh location, Leardi added.