When the Kings drafted Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on October 6, not only was the draft virtual, but it had been pushed back more than three months. With the anticipation of draft day looming, Byfield didn’t care whether it was in person or virtual. He just wanted to be drafted.
“Just working your whole life for that moment and then it finally came on October 6th,” he said. “It was an amazing night and one I won’t soon forget.”
Going into draft night, Byfield admittedly thought he might have ended up in Ottawa with the third pick in the draft but couldn’t have been happier to be coming to the winning culture of sunny, warm Los Angeles.
“It’s a great place for sports,” Byfield said to Mike Commito of LAKings.com. “There’s a lot of winning going on right with the Lakers and Dodgers, so hopefully we can repeat that. Going from Sudbury where it’s minus 30 [Celsius] to plus 30 [Celsius] in LA will definitely be a bit of a change of lifestyle, but I think it might it be for the better. It was freezing in Sudbury, but I’ll get to enjoy the beaches now.”
Being drafted at No. 2 was an accomplishment of its own, but to raise the stakes even higher, going second overall also made Byfield the highest selected black hockey player ever, surpassing Seth Jones in 2013 and Evander Kane in 2009, who both went fourth overall. That accomplishment did not go unnoticed – As one of the brightest young players with a highly promising future in the NHL, the league and many of its players and personalities immediately reached out with congratulatory messages on his accomplishment.
Congratulations to @byfield55 on his 2nd Overall selection and becoming the highest drafted black player in history.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) October 6, 2020
Congrats to @byfield55 on being the highest drafted black @NHL player ever. To be young, gifted, and black and own it.. it’s more than a moment. Very happy for you and your family! pic.twitter.com/NZto4EyAtg
— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) October 8, 2020
While the sports world celebrated, the city of Los Angeles embraced its newest member in a way we haven’t witnessed on the hockey scene in recent years. Some of the more high-profile introductions included the city’s other “QB”, Jared Goff from the Rams, along with some of his teammates, and Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Welcome to Los Angeles, @byfield55!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 8, 2020
— LA Kings (@LAKings) October 9, 2020
The entertainment world also joined in, with long-time Kings supporter Snoop Dogg sending his welcome in the only fashion you would expect from the megastar.
“I couldn’t even believe it,” Byfield said. “I wouldn’t even think he’d know who I am, let alone go on social media and welcome me to LA, that is something special. He’s an icon, so seeing that message really makes you feel welcome and really want to get down there and start playing.”
— LA Kings (@LAKings) October 9, 2020
As all of the social media attention rolled in, Byfield was also quick to join in the banter and engage right back, even telling Magic Johnson that he “isn’t a bad point guard,” if needed.
“It’s pretty unbelievable. I mean, you have arguably one of the best basketball players of all time giving you a shoutout — I’m surprised he even knew my name. So that was pretty cool, him welcoming me to L.A.,” Byfield said.
Welcome to LA Quinton Byfield! Congratulations on being drafted by the Kings as the highest-selected Black hockey player in NHL history! @byfield55
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 8, 2020
After the proper welcome, Byfield officially committed to organization on October 16th when he signed his 3-year entry-level contract with the Kings. Though Byfield has now put pen to paper, he is not expected to officially report to the Kings organization until the World Junior Championships tournament with Team Canada has concluded.
“I’m going to stay [with Team Canada], hopefully make the team,” Byfield said to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. “That’s the plan I talked about with GM Rob Blake. I think that’s the best option for us. I’ll head over [to the Kings] after I’m done here.”
Team Canada returned to the ice today after a 14-day quarantine was enforced due to a positive COVID-19 test. Hockey Canada has 16 more cuts to make before selecting a final 25-man roster to represent the country at the World Juniors later this month. The 10-team international showcase will see teams enter a bubble in Edmonton beginning on December 13, with the tournament expected to begin on December 25.