July 11, 2014

Bruins pick son of former player Ted Donato at 2014 Draft

By Wayne Fish

Like Bruin, like cub. It’s not like the name Donato needed to be reintroduced to Boston’s hockey faithful. After all, Ted Donato spent nine seasons with the Black and Gold, got his start with Harvard and now coaches the Crimson.

But just in case anyone wasn’t up to date, the Bruins went ahead and selected Ted’s son, Ryan, with their second pick (56th overall) in last month’s NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia. Ryan first plans to begin his own career at, of all places, Harvard, after he graduates from Dexter School. As for that strategy, there’s still the matter of getting accepted to Harvard first. But when your dad is the hockey coach, your chances are probably pretty good.

The relevance of all these familial connections wasn’t lost on Ryan leading up to the big moment at the Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love. “I was shaking in my seat for the minute they (Bruins) were waiting,’’ Ryan said. “I couldn’t be happier with the pick. I’m proud to be in such a great organization now.”

Would you believe us if we told you Ryan spent last year playing for his uncle, Dan Donato, the head coach at Dexter?

Ryan has his old man’s scoring touch, posting 37 goals in 30 games. “I’m a guy who can get the puck to the net, create opportunities to score,” Ryan said. “I like to be a team player. I like to block shots, use the body, play in all situations.”

Ryan said he plans to huddle with Bruins officials about the best course of action for 2014-15. He can either go back to Dexter or perhaps see more action as a player for Omaha in the United States Hockey League (USHL).

Looking back, it was an exciting time leading up to the draft. Ryan, considered the Massachusetts South Shore’s top prospect, wasn’t quite sure what round he would go or if the Bruins were a certain destination. His dad, no doubt, was also a little nervous, but in a good way. Taken 98th in the 1987 draft, 
Ted can still remember the anxiety of waiting to hear one’s named called. “I won’t be going as a former NHL player or a coach,” Ted Donato told the Patriot Ledger prior to the draft. “I’ll be going as a proud parent — and I’ll be nervous and excited for my son, just like all the other parents.”

After the draft, Ryan returned to his hometown of Scituate on Sunday and was still feeling the impact of getting drafted by the Bruins. “I’m still kind of stuck on Cloud 9,” he said. “It hit me a little bit (Saturday) night and a little more (Sunday) morning, just walking around Scituate, having people, friends come up to me and talk to me about the draft.’’

It’s safe to say there was some Bruins blood in Ryan’s veins long before he was drafted by them. He’s old enough to remember when his father returned to the Bruins in 2003-04 after stints with seven other NHL teams. Ryan tagged along when he could and became a bit of a rink rat.

So naturally he hoped his name would still be on the board when the Bruins were getting ready to choose in the second round. “A bunch of teams I’d talked to and done interviews with all had picks before the Bruins, and I wasn’t sure I’d last until (the Bruins’) pick,’’ Ryan said.

If he hadn’t gone in the second round, chances are he would not have wound up with the Bruins, who didn’t have a third-round pick. Donato was rated 58th among North American skaters and was considered too much of a talent to fall to the fourth round. “I figured I might as well try not to worry about it, just go with whatever happened,” Ryan said. “And I got lucky — I got picked by the Bruins.”

All those trips to TD Garden as a youngster kind of created a dream that he would wind up with a chance to play there someday. “Yeah, there was always that little hope,” he said. “I really would have been perfectly happy going anywhere, but if I had a choice, I would have picked the Bruins because I grew up around the rink, grew up seeing a lot of their players.”

Words certain to make Ted Donato a proud papa bear.

This article originally appeared in the July edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.

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