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NHL shines the spotlight on next Nolan


Sam Laskaris, Windspeaker Writer, SAULT STE. MARIE







Yet another member of the Nolan family is hoping to make it to the National Hockey League.
Jordan Nolan, the son of former NHL hockey player and coach Ted Nolan, turned 20 on June 23, and received a spectacular belated birthday gift four days later when he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL Entry Draft.
Nolan, an Ojibway from the Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was chosen in the seventh round and was the 186th pick over-all.
Nolan had been eligible to be chosen in each of the previous two NHL drafts as well, but did not get selected. And since there was no guarantee he'd be taken this year either, he opted not to attend the draft, which was staged in Montreal.
Instead, he found out the Kings had selected him by following the draft online.
"I was pretty thrilled when I saw my name pop up," he said.
Nolan said his game improved significantly this past season and he realizes he had not done enough to get drafted the past two years.
"I just matured over the last couple of years," he said. "And I realized how serious I have to take hockey."
Nolan is now hoping to become the third member of his family to graduate to the NHL.
His father Ted appeared in 78 NHL games during his seven-year pro playing career, which concluded in 1986.
Ted Nolan, however, is better known for being an NHL coach. In fact, he was awarded the Jack Adams Award for being the league's best coach during the 1996-97 season when he was with the Buffalo Sabres.
The elder Nolan also had NHL coaching stints with the Hartford Whalers and New York Islanders.
Nolan's oldest son Brandon, who is now 26, also became a pro hockey player. He spent the majority of his first five pro years in the minors. But he played six games in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2007-08 season.
Brandon Nolan's playing days now appear to be over. It's unlikely he will return to the sport as he sat out this past season, still suffering the effects from a serious concussion he received a year earlier.
As for Jordan Nolan, he spent this past year with the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The club had a disappointing 19-45-2-2 mark and finished dead last in the 20-team league.
But Nolan really started to make a name for himself with the Greyhounds. He led the team in scoring with 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 64 games. And he was an intimidating force as well, leading the Greyhounds in penalty minutes with 158.
"This year as a 19-year-old he started to show his talent," said Greyhounds' general manager Dave Torrie.
For Jordan Nolan, this past season was his fourth in the OHL, but first with Sault Ste. Marie. He toiled for the Pennsylvania-based Erie Otters during his rookie season. And he was a member of the Windsor Spitfires the next two years.
Torrie believes there are pros and cons in having a famous father.
"That might be part of the reason it's taken Jordan this long to establish himself," Torrie said, adding having a former NHL player and coach for a father has possibly opened up some doors for the younger Nolan. "In some ways you're under a bit more scrutiny."
Though he's been drafted by the Kings, Jordan Nolan is still uncertain what the coming season will bring.
If he really turns some heads at Los Angeles' training camp this September, he could conceivably play in the NHL.
But if the Kings do indeed offer him a contract, it's more likely he'll suit up for their American Hockey League affiliate, the New Hampshire-based Manchester Monarchs.
The younger Nolan is also eligible to return to the Greyhounds and suit up as an overage player.
"Time will tell," Torrie said. "That is certainly one of the options."
Torrie added he's had various discussions with Mike Futa, the Kings' co-director of amateur scouting, about their possible plans for Nolan.
"I don't think any decisions will be made until Jordan attends their fall camp," Torrie said.