Detroit — What a dream come true for Red Wings draft pick Alec Regula.
Regula, who was selected in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft Saturday in Dallas, is a West Bloomfield native who won a state championship as a freshman at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
He’s currently playing with London in the Ontario Hockey League, and was the defensive partner of Evan Bouchard, who the Wings scouted heavily and eventually was drafted Friday by Edmonton (10th overall).
Regula was a Wings fan growing up — his favorite player was Valtteri Filppula — and Saturday, he was able to slip on a jersey officially.
“It was something really special, being it’s my hometown and everything,” said Regula, a 6-foot-4 right-handed shooting defenseman.
“After meeting with them (in Buffalo during the scouting combine) I was thinking they liked me. I wasn’t too shocked, but when a team (finally drafts you), it’s a sigh of relief.”
But there’s more to the connection to the Red Wings.
And for that matter, the Lions and Tigers, too.
Regula’s father, Chet, was a longtime dentist for all three teams.
“I was always at Joe Louis Arena, my dad was the dentist, so I was in the rink all the time, almost every weekend,” said Regula, who added he and his brother would fight for who would go to the games when the family had tickets for the Lions and Wings.
Tyler Wright, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting, liked Regula’s recent development, calling the defenseman “a late bloomer."
Regula felt this past season in London, his rookie year in the OHL, was beneficial.
“It was a different year for us, we traded a lot of our guys and I had to take a big step,” said Regula, who works out at the same facility as current Wings' Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard and Tyler Bertuzzi, among others.
“That helped me a lot and gave me confidence. Guys got traded and I was having to be reliable.”
One of the best stories of the draft occurred near the end of the day.
Northville twin defensemen Christian (New York Islanders) and Cole Krygier (Florida) were selected in the seventh round.
The twins are both headed to Michigan State, and are the sons of former NHL player Todd Krygier.
Other local players drafted on Day 2 include Birmingham’s Bode Wilde (Michigan/New York Islanders) in the second round; Rochester’s Jonathan Gruden (Miami [Ohio]/Ottawa) and Canton’s Paul Cotter (Western Michigan/N.Y. Islanders) in the fourth round; and Jackson’s Blade Jenkins (Saginaw [OHL]/N.Y. Islanders) and Saline’s Brandon Kruse (Bowling Green/Vegas) in the fifth round.
Wright said the selection of forward Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno in the first round, when the Red Wings were thought to be searching for a defenseman, was not the shock many analysts felt it was.
“To be honest with you, we needed a lot of help in a lot of areas,” Wright said. “We need defense, we need scoring, whether that’s from the center position or the wing.
"So when you’re picking this early in the draft (Zadina was No. 6 overall), it’s a cliché when you sit there and say you’ve got to take the best player on the board in our opinion.”
Two of the biggest ovations of the draft came for Wings’ draft picks Veleno (No. 30 overall) and Ryan O'Reilly (No. 98).
Veleno, from Quebec, had about 20 family members in attendance.
“They’ve all been with me since Day 1,” Veleno said. “They’ll all seen me grow up and play hockey since I was a little kid. They’re pretty much the reason why I’m here and made me who I am.”
O’Reilly, a fourth-round selection, is a Dallas native, from the suburb of South Lake, and had about 40 family and friends in attendance.
“Growing up here, it’s been pretty awesome,” O’Reilly said. “Finding out the draft would be here this year, and being a prospect at the beginning of the year, it’s been pretty unbelievable.”
O’Reilly, incidentally, lived in Novi while playing a year in the Little Caesars program.
“We would practice at Joe Louis and there would be guys we’d meet, like (Pavel) Datsyuk and some of those guys,” O’Reilly said. “It’s pretty awesome to be going to Detroit.”
Zadina’s agent is former Red Wings draft pick Ryan Barnes, who was a 1998 second-round selection.
Barnes had positive things to say about the Wings to Zadina.
“He told me he’s going to take good care of me because he’s from Detroit,” Zadina said. “It’s good stuff. It’s good for me (Barnes is a fan of Detroit).”