Sharks

Why Sharks welcomed first-round pick Wiesblatt with sweet gesture

Sharks

The Sharks announced their first pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in two languages.

San Jose director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. first signed in American Sign Language, then said in English, that the Sharks had drafted Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt with the No. 31 overall pick Tuesday night.

It was a touching gesture to the 18-year-old and his family. Wiesblatt's mother, Kim White, is deaf.

"That means a ton, especially to my mom and the deaf community in general," Wiesblatt said on a video conference with local reporters. "It's a very nice gesture for him to do, and my mom will never forget that."

Wiesblatt has effusively spoken about the sacrifices that White, a single mother of five, has made so he and his three brothers could pursue playing hockey. After moving to Calgary in 2014, White couldn't afford to raise five children on her own. Ocean and Orca Wiesblatt, Ozzy's two older brothers, moved in with nearby families in order to lighten the financial load.

Wilson Jr. said he aimed to give Wiesblatt, whom he called an "unbelievable kid" whose family is "a bunch of hard workers," a moment to share with his mother.

"I wanted to tell the kid that you're a part of the Sharks family, and we're really excited for you," Wilson Jr. said via video conference. "Very excited to have Ozzy with us."

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The Sharks executive joked that he wasn't smart enough to sign Wiesblatt's full name, but San Jose didn't stop there in welcoming the 18-year-old to its organization. Defenseman Brent Burns, captain Logan Couture, defenseman Erik Karlsson -- who joked about his own "sh---y" internet connection -- and winger Kevin Labanc all joined the video conference to congratulate Wiesblatt on being drafted. Wilson Jr. said Wiesblatt also spoke with now-permanent head coach Bob Boughner earlier in the night.

 

With the draft remotely held over three months later than initially scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Wilson Jr. said it was important for the organization to "figure out some small gestures to show him that the Sharks care about him."

Mission accomplished.

"I think already I can tell the Sharks organization is a family, and I'm just ecstatic to be a part of it," Wiesblatt said.