LOS ANGELES — Brett Connolly, taken sixth overall by the Lightning in last weekend's draft at the Staples Center, said he was in kindergarten when he did something "not very smart." The result: surgery to repair three broken bones in his right hand that Connolly's coach Dean Clark said "feels kind of weird" when you shake it. That Connolly played only 16 games last season for Prince George of the junior Western Hockey League because of hip injuries created doubts for some NHL teams. But some scouts say Connolly, 18, a skilled right wing, could be the steal of the draft. He already has had Brett Connolly Day in his hometown of Prince George, British Columbia, which included a mayor's proclamation recognizing the 30 goals he scored as a 16-year-old. But when will he learn to cook? And, more importantly …
Are there any limitations with your hand?
No, absolutely not. I grew up with it and have adapted. I can make a fist. I can hold a (hockey) stick. I can move everything well. It's just a normal hand.
I was swinging off a gate to jump into a lake, which, thinking back on it, was not very smart. I got my hand caught in the gate and it crushed it pretty good. But it's all good now, and it hasn't bothered me since.
What kind of gate?
It was a metal gate to keep vehicles away from the lake. It was just a gate that swung open and closed, and we were swinging off it to jump into the lake. It was definitely something you regret.
How bad were you hurt?
I broke three bones. It was a pretty long surgery. I had to get pins and plates and the whole nine yards. It was definitely the bones and it definitely hurt.
How long before you could start using the hand?
Probably a month or two.
What was Brett Connolly day like?
Well, it's nothing special. It's just a normal day. I didn't get any special treatment. It's just something they decided to do. … It was cool to have the mayor recognize me for what I'd done.
And you scored a goal in that night's game, right?
Yes, I think I did score that day. There was definitely some pressure, but I was fortunate enough to do it.
Is there pressure playing for your hometown team?
There's a lot of pressure, but I like that. I want to be that guy. And living at home you get to sleep in your own bed and go to your own school, so it's definitely good.
Can you cook?
Living and playing at home, your parents kind of spoil you, so that's definitely something I have to work on.
How did Brett Connolly Day compare to being on Hockey Night in Canada with the curmudgeon Don Cherry?
To meet a guy like Don, yeah, that was pretty cool. It's something I'll never forget. It is definitely comparable, but meeting Don Cherry was definitely a little bit better.
What about that black and yellow checkerboard jacket he wore?
It was definitely something else. But he wears stuff like that all the time, so it was pretty cool to actually see it in person.
I like to golf. I like to go to a spot on the lake we go to all the time and hop on a jet ski.
What's on your Ipod?
Rock, rap, techno, a little bit of everything. I like Eminem's new CD right now.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.