"Mainly playing roller hockey, that's where I got my skills," he said, moments after the Nashville Predators drafted him No. 23 overall in the NHL Entry Draft. So did those Canadian boys, who grew up seeing their breath on a frozen pond, give him grief for being a California boy? "Especially going back east for tournaments in Canada, they'd say 'You're soft' or 'Where's your surf board? Why do you have a hockey stick?' But we won a lot of tournaments, and we were able to throw it back in their face."
Well guess what, you tuque-wearing Canuckleheads whose fathers made you skate laps on a local lake until your fingers froze off: Blum is the first California-born and trained player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft -- and he learned how to play hockey like that kid in the movie "Airborne" did. Someone asked if he felt like a pioneer for California hockey hopefuls. "It gives them hope, I would say. It's starting to pick up, especially with Anaheim winning the Stanley Cup," he said.
Blum was a member of the Memorial Cup champion Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He told me that it was his experience in Vancouver that turned hockey from a hobby into a potential career -- despite the doubters. "People would ask if this was really what I wanted to do for a living. They would say Californians are soft, that we're pampered," he said.
Nashville got its first-round pick back from the Flyers in the week leading up to the draft; Blum said he wasn't aware the Predators had one before they selected him. He was happy with the selection -- "Yellow is one of my favorite colors," he said -- but I asked him if he had considered that the team that just drafted him might not be in the same city when he's NHL ready. "You know what? Right now, it hasn't really come to mind...it's something that might be a little strange. But right now I'm just looking forward to going out with my parents and celebrating," he said.
Not to worry: Word is that the sale of the Predators to Jim "Back Up the U-Haul" Balsillie might have hit a significant roadblock.