From Gord Stellick:
The 1979 draft was held by conference call and was later than usual as the NHL put the finishing touches on the merger with the WHA which would see Edmonton, Quebec, Hartford and Winnipeg begin their first seasons in the NHL.
Though they had a strong season, the Boston Bruins held the eighth-overall selection in the draft by virtue of an earlier trade of goaltender Ron Grahame to the Los Angeles Kings for that first-round selection.
They had a particular player targeted with that eighth-overall pick, a "can't miss" defenceman. He hadn't been picked in the first six selections and now only the Chicago Blackhawks selecting seventh overall stood in their way of their future NHL star. Bruins management and scouts held their collective breath in their Boston-area hotel suite.
Then, on the telephone conference line that included all NHL teams and NHL offices, they heard the distinctive drone of Blackhawks general manager announcing the selection of Keith Brown from the Portland Winterhawks.
After a few seconds of disbelief, the Bruin room erupted in groans, disappointment and anger. A few fists pounded the table loudly and one scout threw his binder against the wall. They had been one pick away from their greatly coveted player.
The Bruins had to regain their focus and make the next selection. After a short debate, they decided to stick with drafting a defenceman. Their runner-up selection was Raymond Bourque from the Verdun Black Hawks!
Here's more, including the story of how the Hartford Whalers missed out on their much publicized desired pick only to land their franchise player.
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