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﹛﹛Al MacInnis of Port Hood, who today is a senior advisor with the Blues organization, retired in September 2005, finishing his career with 340 goals, 934 assists and 1,274 points in 1,416 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.?FILE

﹛﹛SYDNEY, N.S. 〞 Sitting in the stands at the Montreal Forum, Al MacInnis and Paul Boutilier waited patiently.?

﹛﹛The Cape Breton hockey players know they*ll hear their name called by one of the NHL*s then 21 franchises, but anxiousness sets in as each team begins making selections. ?

﹛﹛Finally, the Calgary Flames come to the microphone and take MacInnis at No. 15 overall. Six picks later, Boutilier*s name rings through the historic Forum as the No. 21 overall selection by the New York Islanders. ?

﹛﹛This is how June 10, 1981 unfolded for MacInnis and Boutilier. Forty years later, the two are connected to Cape Breton hockey history that hasn*t been repeated since. ?

﹛﹛MacInnis and Boutilier became the first 每 and only to date 每 Cape Breton-born players to be drafted in the first round of an NHL entry draft in the same year since the draft was created in 1963.?

﹛﹛※I*m sure Paul and I have the same feelings about it. I think the biggest takeaway from it is hopefully it*s been able to break down the glass ceilings for kids in Cape Breton,§ said MacInnis in an interview this week with the Cape Breton Post. ?

﹛﹛※We like to think that we somehow gave a lot of kids hopes and dreams and carved a path that they can reach their dreams if they work hard enough and are committed, regardless of where they may be from on the island.§ ?

﹛﹛Boutilier echoed MacInnis, acknowledging the two are proud to be from Cape Breton and couldn*t have been happier to be role models for youth in their communities. ?

﹛﹛※Just to be on that stage and representing our hometowns and doing it that way, every coach that coached us and every teammate we had was all part of that,§ said Boutilier. ?

﹛﹛※When I heard Al*s name called by the Flames, I was so happy for him, and then a few picks later I was drafted. It was such a great honour to be there and for both of us to be selected in that first round.§?

﹛﹛Although MacInnis had a longer professional career in the NHL than Boutilier, the two took similar paths to the pro ranks and it all began in Cape Breton.?

﹛﹛Al MacInnis of Port Hood went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 along with a Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup playoffs'?most valuable player. FILE

﹛﹛Al MacInnis of Port Hood went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 along with a Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup playoffs’?most valuable player. FILE

﹛﹛Growing up in Port Hood, MacInnis watched as his older brothers played hockey. Following in their footsteps, he decided to give the sport a chance. ?

﹛﹛※All the kids in Port Hood were playing hockey and it all started on outdoor ponds,§ said MacInnis, who was one of eight children. ?

﹛﹛※My oldest brother Brian asked our neighbour to bring a backhoe down behind our house one day and dig up a piece of land to build a pond for us 每 that*s a true story and where it all began.§?

﹛﹛As the years went on, MacInnis would turn to the competitive side of the game, which forced him to leave Port Hood to play in the Port Hawkesbury area 每 almost 40 minutes away. ?

﹛﹛※If you wanted to go to a higher level that*s what you had to do,§ said MacInnis, a married father of four children. Three of them 〞 Ryan, Riley and Lauren 〞 currently play hockey.?

﹛﹛※It was a little bit of a trek, but between my parents and the MacDonald family in Port Hood, they took us to practice three times a week and tournaments. We*re thankful for their commitment and know it wasn*t always easy.§?

﹛﹛Meanwhile, Boutilier was first introduced to the sport in the 1960s when he began playing at Centennial Arena in Sydney. ?

﹛﹛※It was house league hockey and I remember wearing my father*s work gloves from the garage, shin and elbow pads, but no hockey pants,§ laughed Boutilier, who always watched Hockey Night in Canada?with his grandfather Archie MacKay in Glace Bay.?

﹛﹛※The gloves weren*t hockey gloves. These days you*d have to go to Rudderham*s Source for Sports and get fitted before you went to the rink, but it wasn*t like that in those days.§?

﹛﹛The Sydney product would play with the local minor hockey association and that*s where he*d suffer his first hockey heartbreak 每 not making a team.?

﹛﹛※I was seven years old and Jackie Coffin was coaching. I didn*t make the atom &AAA* team. I got cut and I think it was because I didn*t listen to the coach or I wasn*t paying attention,§ said Boutilier.?

﹛﹛※I was really hurt over that because I felt I was good enough to make the team. I guess that really gave me motivation for the rest of my career.§?

﹛﹛After spending time in the Port Hawkesbury area, MacInnis would later join the Nova Midgets.?

﹛﹛MacInnis would help the Antigonish-based team reach the Air Canada Cup, the national under-18 championship in 1979, but not before making a change in his game. ?

﹛﹛※Donnie MacIsaac was coaching the team and I was a forward for the first half of the season,§ said the now 57-year-old MacInnis. ?

﹛﹛※Donnie came to me and told me there was a lot about my game he liked 每 puck movement and shot 每 but I wasn*t the type of skater to be a forward and asked me to play defence.?

﹛﹛※I must have had a hockey god looking over me at some point because the second half of the season I played defence and everything went good 每 the rest is history.§?

﹛﹛The Air Canada Cup tournament was played in Winnipeg and during the event, MacInnis received a break he wasn*t expecting 每 he had been scouted by Bob Strumm, the general manager for the Billings Bighorns of the Western Hockey League.?

﹛﹛Shortly after recruiting MacInnis, Strumm took over the Regina Pats and put the then 18-year-old on the club*s protective list. ?

﹛﹛MacInnis, who originally planned to attend the Pats’ training camp and return to Antigonish for midget hockey, went on to play with the Regina Pat Blues of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, posting 20 goals and 48 points in 59 games.?

﹛﹛Through connections with Glace Bay*s Doug Sulliman, MacInnis was spotted by Kitchener Rangers general manager Mike Penny 每 a current professional scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs 每 who drafted him in the third round of the Ontario Hockey League draft in 1980.?

﹛﹛As for Boutilier, after playing with various local school teams in Cape Breton, he found himself with options of where he could play junior hockey.?

﹛﹛Boutilier had been drafted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League*s Sherbrooke Castors in the sixth-round, No. 47 overall, as well as the Windsor Spitfires in the sixth-round, No. 73 overall, at the OHL draft, both in 1980.?

﹛﹛※We didn*t have any major junior or Canadian Hockey League teams in Atlantic Canada, so we were eligible to be drafted in any of the three leagues,§ said the now 58-year-old Boutilier.?

﹛﹛※Wayne Maxner was the Spitfires general manager and he got word there were some good Maritime guys around 每 not many scouts came through to watch games. ?

﹛﹛※But it was a guy by the name of George Guilbeault who was the main reason I chose to play in Sherbrooke. He was at my door in Sydney at least once a month until I decided.§?

﹛﹛MacInnis, who ironically enough like Boutilier was also drafted by Sherbrooke but never played for the team, would suit up for the Rangers in 47 games during the 1980-81 season, posting 11 goals and 39 points. ?

﹛﹛The Rangers would earn a spot in the 1981 Memorial Cup but lost to the Cornwall Royals 8-2 in the championship game, but MacInnis*s exposure to NHL scouts had already been well received. ?

﹛﹛He recalls flying to the NHL entry draft by himself and sitting in the stands waiting for the event to begin.?

﹛﹛※My agent at the time flew me to Montreal by myself 每 I didn*t have any family with me,§ said MacInnis. ※I remember the Flames announced my name. I went down to the table and was introduced to Cliff Fletcher, Al MacNeil, the coaching staff and scouts 每 it took maybe five or six minutes.?

﹛﹛※I went back to my seat for a little while and then I was back on a plane home. There wasn*t a lot to it back then, but it*s a lot different now # the first-round takes a whole day now.§?

﹛﹛MacInnis returned to Kitchener for the 1981-82 season and recorded 25 goals and 75 points in 59 games, while winning a Memorial Cup, defeating Boutilier and the Castors 7-4 in the championship game. ?

﹛﹛He*d play one more season with the Rangers in 1982-83, before turning to the professional ranks. ?

﹛﹛Boutilier, on the other hand, made his way to la belle province and played 72 games with the Castors during the 1980-81 season, recording 10 goals and 39 points. He added 10 points in 14 playoff games. ?

﹛﹛Like MacInnis, Boutilier*s family didn*t attend the draft. Instead, he was accompanied by his uncle, Jack MacKay, and Guilbeault. ?

﹛﹛※I remember calling my parents after I was picked and telling them I had been selected by the Islanders 每 New York was a much bigger city than Sydney and I think it was a little bit of a shock at first, but it all worked out,§ he said.?

﹛﹛Boutilier returned to Sherbrooke for the 1981-82 campaign. He recorded 20 goals and 80 points in 57 games, while adding seven goals and 38 points in 21 playoff games. He also represented Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.?

﹛﹛He*d win a President Cup title with the Castors, sweeping the Trois-Rivi豕res Draveurs in four games in the best-of-seven QMJHL championship series, advancing to the Memorial Cup. ?

﹛﹛Ironically, Boutilier and MacInnis would both be named to the 1982 Memorial Cup all-star team 每 the first and only Cape Breton players on the same all-star team at the tournament. ?

﹛﹛Boutilier played his final year of junior hockey with the Saint-Jean Castors 每 the former Sherbrooke Castors prior to relocation 每 where he served as the club*s captain, notching five goals and 19 points in 22 games before being recalled by the Islanders. ?

﹛﹛During his time with the Blues, Al MacInnis captured the Norris Trophy as the league*s top defenceman for the 1998-99 season.?FILE

﹛﹛During his time with the Blues, Al MacInnis captured the Norris Trophy as the league*s top defenceman for the 1998-99 season.?FILE

﹛﹛MacInnis began his 23-year NHL career with the Flames in 1983-84, but not before spending half the year with the Colorado Flames of the Central Hockey League. ?

﹛﹛※It was a struggle at times in the first year, but I had been doing well on the power play in Denver,§ said MacInnis.?

﹛﹛He received the break he needed, but unfortunately at the expense of his good friend Paul Reinhart, who had been working the Flames power play and suffered a back injury. ?

﹛﹛※It was my chance to play the power play and come up and play in the NHL,§ said MacInnis, noting he had to quickly learn how to play defence in the league, given his Kitchener teams were so good he barely had to defend. ?

﹛﹛※I was still young, and I had a lot to learn. I remember going to my first training camp and realizing I was 19 years old playing against guys who were anywhere from 20 to 36 and were grown men.§?

﹛﹛MacInnis credits Sydney*s Al MacNeil for helping him throughout his career, especially during his 13 years in Calgary. ?

﹛﹛※I was fortunate to have Al as a mentor,§ said MacInnis. Over the course of his career, he would set goals each season to be one of his club*s top three best-conditioned players.?

﹛﹛※I look back now and consider how lucky I was to have a guy from Sydney to take me under his wing and guide me in the right direction on how to look after myself.§?

﹛﹛MacInnis, who remains in contact with MacNeil, went on to win a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989 along with a Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup playoffs’?most valuable player. He also won a gold medal at the Canada Cup in 1991.?

﹛﹛After 13 years with the Flames, MacInnis, known for his 100 m.p.h. slapshot, was traded to the St. Louis Blues on July 4, 1994, for Phil Housley. During his time with the Blues, MacInnis captured the Norris Trophy as the league*s top defenceman for the 1998-99 season.?

﹛﹛MacInnis, who today is a senior advisor with the Blues organization, retired in September 2005, finishing his career with 340 goals, 934 assists and 1,274 points in 1,416 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.?

﹛﹛Paul Boutilier of Sydney won the Stanley Cup with the New York Islanders in 1983. FILE

﹛﹛Paul Boutilier of Sydney won the Stanley Cup with the New York Islanders in 1983. FILE

﹛﹛As for Boutilier, he jumped into the league in 1982-83, appearing in 29 games with the Islanders with four goals and nine points. He won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1983. ?

﹛﹛※It was great to be part of the Stanley Cup-winning team with those guys and learning how to win,§ said Boutilier, who credits coach Al Arbour for pushing him to be better every day.?

﹛﹛He would play parts of three seasons with the Islanders, before spending time with the Boston Bruins, Minnesota North Stars, New York Rangers?and Winnipeg Jets. ?

﹛﹛In 288 NHL games, Boutilier had 27 goals and 110 points along with 358 penalty minutes. ?

﹛﹛He also played in the American Hockey League with New Haven, Moncton and Maine, before wrapping up his playing career in 1991 with Z邦rcher SC in Switzerland. ?

﹛﹛Boutilier later turned to coaching with Saint Mary*s University, Dalhousie University, the Saint John Sea Dogs?and most recently, the Belleville Senators in 2018-19.?

﹛﹛Today, Boutilier is a personal defensive coach for several NHL players and those working to reach the ultimate goal of playing professional hockey. ?

﹛﹛Boutilier is currently working with the Ottawa Senators* Thomas Chabot, New York Islanders* Noah Dobson?and Tampa Bay Lightning’s David Savard as well as several AHL players. ?

﹛﹛He is also working with QMJHL players Tristan Luneau (Gatineau), Evan Nause (Quebec), Matteo Mann (Chicoutimi) and Oscar Plandowski (Charlottetown).?

﹛﹛When asked if they thought two Cape Breton hockey players would ever be drafted in the first round of the NHL draft again, both Boutilier and MacInnis agreed. ?

﹛﹛※We*d be the guys who would be jumping up and down if that was to ever happen again,§ said Boutilier. ※We*re always cheering kids on from home and seeing the Telus Cup in Membertou next year is exciting for those local kids.?

﹛﹛※One never knows what can happen in the future. The Cole Harbour area has Crosby and MacKinnon, so who knows what may happen down the road. Al and I hope to see more Cape Breton kids drafted.§

﹛﹛Jeremy Fraser is?a?sports?and breaking news?reporter for the Cape Breton Post. He’s been with the publication for four years. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy.?

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