June 22, 2012. Brian Burke is standing atop the NHL draft stage at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Maple Leafs president and general manager is waiting to greet his first-round pick when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sidles up beside him.

“Is that who you wanted?” Bettman asks Burke.

“We had him first,” Burke responds matter-of-factly, as behind-the-scenes footage from that day shows.

Bettman’s eyes widen. “Awesome,” he says. “It’s funny how things work out.”

Yes, it’s funny how things work out.

Were it not for a major knee injury, a “crapshoot” at the top of the draft, and a surprising draft night move by Garth Snow and the New York Islanders, it’s possible Morgan Rielly doesn’t fall to the Leafs with the fifth overall pick and never becomes one of the best defencemen in franchise history. And arguably, the best skater in the entire 2012…





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