Gary Bettman has priceless reaction to Canadiens winning NHL draft lottery

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presides over the 2022 NHL draft lottery. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presides over the 2022 NHL draft lottery. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens had the balls bounce their way Tuesday night at the NHL draft lottery, winning the right to the No. 1 pick in this summer's draft in Montreal.

Montreal will be the first team since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1985 to host the draft and hold the No. 1 pick, but that didn't appear to excite NHL commissioner Gary Bettman all that much.

While deputy commissioner Bill Daly was the one announcing the order on live television, the lottery took place earlier on Tuesday with Bettman calling the numbers. The league released a behind-the-scenes look at the process, and when the winning combination for the Canadiens (1-3-4-13) was called out, Bettman’s reaction was priceless.

Although surely just a harmless, awkward reaction captured in the moment, fans couldn't help but crack jokes that Bettman was surprised things didn't go as planned for the NHL, which would have preferred the top pick went to the financially struggling Arizona Coyotes.

Most fans, however, took a more rational approach.

The Canadiens entered the event with the best odds to win the lottery at 18.5 percent, but held a 25.5 percent chance of claiming the first overall selection due to a new rule introduced last year by commissioner Gary Bettman. Under the new rules, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots by winning the lottery, meaning the club with the 12th-best odds can’t come away with the No. 1 pick, taking some clubs out of contention. Also, no team is allowed to win the lottery more than two times in a five-year period.

While the Canadiens do get the chance to pick first, there’s no guarantee they will select Shane Wright, the consensus choice to go first overall. General manager Kent Hughes spoke to the media after winning the lottery and indicated that there’s a lot of work to be done before the Canadiens finalize their decision.

“You always go with your evaluation first and if there’s a player we feel is the best player available in the draft, then that’s the player we’re going to with," he said. "If there are different shades of the same colour in our opinion, could we value one because of a positional need, yeah certainly. But we’re not at that point yet so I can’t really tell you that’s the case where we can see multiple players in the same ballpark.”

This prompted a reporter from to ask whether he would draft his son, Jack Hughes, with the first overall pick, to which the GM promptly confirmed that wouldn't be happening.

Jack Hughes, who dropped from the seventh best skater in North America to 26th in Central Scouting's most recent rankings, didn’t waste time firing back at his father on social media.

Jack Hughes plays for Northeastern University. He put up 16 points in 39 games this season. Kent Hughes might have been clear about not selecting his son with the first overall pick this summer, but he could be an option in the second round, which would add another layer of intrigue to what's shaping up to be an exciting draft weekend in Montreal.

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