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Rick Celebrini admits Sharks drafting son Macklin would be ‘amazing’

Rick Celebrini admits Sharks drafting son Macklin would be ‘amazing’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Celebrini family can’t help but hope that it’s the San Jose Sharks who select Macklin Celebrini with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

“It’d be amazing,” Rick Celebrini, Warriors director of sports medicine and performance and father of the Livermore-based family, told San Jose Hockey Now this week. “We talk about it all the time. We try not to go there either. Because it’s out of our hands, and you really don’t want to be disappointed either. But as a family, it would be unbelievable to have him here with us in the Bay where we can help him and support him.”

The Golden State Warriors hired Vancouver native Celebrini in Aug. 2018. The next year, the rest of the family — wife Robyn, oldest son Aiden, Macklin, daughter Charlie, and youngest son RJ — followed him to Willow Glen.

Aiden, then 15, and Macklin, 13, both played for the Jr. Sharks in 2019-20.

It was a good year with the Jr. Sharks for Macklin, who piled up 49 goals and 45 assists in just 54 games for the 14-and-under squad.

Rick pointed to Robert Savoie, Macklin’s Jr. Sharks head coach, and now Senior Hockey Director at Sharks Ice, as having a positive influence on his son.

“Sometimes, you get a little bit too comfortable being in the same place, that being Vancouver as he grew up through his early years,” Rick said. “But to come to a different environment, different challenges, different way of doing things, I think that helped him mature and adapt and grow. The people that were around the Jr. Sharks did a wonderful job of supporting him and teaching him. There’s something to be gained and learned every step of the way. I think the Jr. Sharks provided a really good step for both the boys.”

And outside of hockey, Rick’s job with the Warriors – The Athletic said that he “might be the most powerful figure in the organization you don’t know” – has allowed his children to learn from the finest athletes in the world.

“From when we first got here, and him having the opportunity, all my kids really, to see a guy like Steph Curry, the way he approaches training,” Celebrini said. “I’ve said this before, it’s something that every young athlete should have the privilege to watch and observe and just see the speed and the intensity and the focus that he directs towards his training. As they got more serious, they saw that very first, firsthand, that it’s not just about the glitz and glamour, the television production, it’s really recognizing all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”

The oldest Celebrini boys would move on to Shattuck St. Mary’s, the premier hockey prep school in the United States. Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Zach Parise, and Jonathan Toews are among the greats who attended the so-called “Hogwarts of Hockey.”

Defenseman Aiden Celebrini, selected in the sixth round of the 2023 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, and center Macklin both star at Boston University now. And the latter is scoring like he’s still with the Jr. Sharks, dropping 32 goals and 32 assists in just 37 games as a 17-year-old at BU this season.

Macklin is tracking to be the sure-fire No. 1 overall pick of this year’s draft, drawing frequent comparisons to three-time Stanley Cup champion Toews.

And if the cellar-dwelling Sharks can continue their losing ways to finish the 2023-24 regular season, they’ll have the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick during the 2024 Draft Lottery, scheduled for May 6 or 7. The worst team in the NHL has a 25.5 percent chance of landing the first-overall selection.

Rick really doesn’t want to get too excited about the prospect of Macklin playing so close to the family.

But it does amaze him, growing up in Vancouver in the 1970s, how much hockey has grown in California since he was a kid.

“It’s great to see the game grow, especially in California,” Rick said. “Obviously, the Great One, Wayne Gretzky had a lot to do with that, the influence that he had. But to see it at the grassroots level and all the way up to the professional level to see the support and the passion that the game is reaching here, it’s fun to see.”

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Daughter Charlie is an accomplished amateur tennis player, while 12-year-old RJ skates for a Livermore team, a testament of how hockey has expanded in the Bay Area beyond San Jose and the Sharks.

Rick isn’t ignorant of what Macklin could mean to the Sharks, five years removed from their last Stanley Cup playoffs appearance, and in the midst of a prolonged rebuild. That’s reflected in the attendance at SAP Center, where San Jose is playing at 77.2 percent capacity, lowest in the NHL this year.

But of course, it wasn’t always this way at the Shark Tank.

From 2009 to 2014, the Sharks enjoyed a 205-game sellout streak. From 1998 to 2019, under GMs Dean Lombardi and Doug Wilson, the Sharks missed the playoffs just twice.

The Sharks need a new face of the franchise, so why not one from their own backyard?

“I think the game of hockey is just really ready to take off here in the Bay,” Rick said, “and for him to hopefully contribute to that build would be really fun to be a part of.”

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