BY MELISSA ZIELINSKI
Most players were anxiously awaiting their fate in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, but Garrett Haar, a 17 year-old out of Huntington Beach, California, chose a different approach- not going at all.
After interviewing with the Washington Capitals for only five minutes and having very limited talks with a small number of other teams, Haar decided to sit the draft out at home, secretly.
“I told a bunch of people I was going to the beach, but I couldn’t resist. I had to watch it,” he said.
That was until the seventh round when he finally gave up on what could or could not be a turning point in his career. He turned to Call of Duty instead. Then while playing video games with his brother, Haar was pleasantly interrupted by his advisor with news that has since brought him to D.C. in the midst of a hot summer season to start what he hopes will be the beginning of his NHL career.
Haar, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound defenseman, was drafted in the seventh round (207th overall) by the Washington Capitals.
Since then, Haar has managed to catch the eye of the coaching staff with his good hockey sense and his ability to defend.
“I thought Haar was the biggest surprise of the camp,” said general manager and vice president George McPhee. “For a young man who was four picks away from not being drafted he really played well here.”
His road to the development camp isn’t the only intriguing part of his story though, how he learned to play is also quite unique. Since California has just become a hotbed for hockey, at a young age Haar took it to the streets instead…literally.
“I did start with roller hockey until 11 years-old, “ said Haar, who still plays to this day. “Then I told my mom I wanted to do this for my job,” he said.
Her first instinct was to get him into some skates and on the ice immediately.
From there, Haar started his on-ice career with the California Wave (his squirt A team) and is now skating for Fargo out of the United States Hockey League. During his 2010-11 campaign, Haar recorded 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists) in 51 games and 38 penalty minutes. He credits his style of play by ironically emulating Mike Green of the Capitals and the well-known Nick Lindstrom.
Upon arriving at camp, Haar humbly noted he was “nervous,” but did not have any expectations as one of the youngest players at the camp.
“I think that I’m surprising myself and I think that I’m surprising a lot of over people,” he said.
Being only 17, Haar must think about the future. McPhee would much rather see the youngster head to the NCAA rather than head back to the USHL for another year.
Haar has “respectfully declined” college hockey offers from University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Western Michigan and has also de-committed from Northeastern after a few coaching changes that solidified his decision. Haar most recently said he wanted to pursue Denver, Boston University and Boston College.
Now that his options have opened up (with help from his performance at July’s development camp) Haar will continue his NHL dreams down a inimitable path with his sites set on a big-league future.