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David Littman's Blog: So you want to be a professional hockey player?

David Littman was drafted in the 11th round (211 overall) by the Sabres in 1987. (THN Archives)

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David Littman was drafted in the 11th round (211 overall) by the Sabres in 1987. (THN Archives)

Hi, my name is David Littman. You may have heard of me from my brief stint in the NHL, or from when I played in the AHL and the IHL. You may currently know me as the producer of the EA Sports NHL series. However, for the 98 percent of you without the last name Littman, allow me to introduce myself.

Ever since I was six years old, there was only one thing I wanted to do - play in the NHL. When I was a kid, my dad bought season tickets to the new team in town, the New York Islanders. We sat near the Islanders net and I watched Chico Resch and Billy Smith every game. It was then I decided I wanted to be a goalie, mostly because the equipment looked cool.

I joined the Oyster Bay youth hockey organization and went to summer hockey camps where I was coached by the likes of Resch, Smith, Lou Lamoriello and Brian Burke.

When I wasn't playing on the ice, I was playing street hockey. When I wasn't playing street hockey, I was in my basement throwing tennis balls against the stairs and making glove saves that would win my team the Stanley Cup.

Hockey was all I thought about and there was no doubt in my mind I would play in the NHL.

But not everyone else thought so.

In the sixth grade my teacher, Mr. Browser, asked all the boys in his class who wanted to become professional athletes to raise their hands. Of course, we all did. Then Mr. Browser said something I'll never forget. He told us to forget it, that not one of us would make it.
 
Twelve years later, there I was, playing my first NHL game for the Buffalo Sabres on Long Island against the Islanders. I hope Mr. Browser was in the stands.
 
I am average size. I finished last in every race in gym class and I have a vertical leap of two inches. But I could stop a puck, I believed in myself and I wanted it more than anyone else. If there is one sport where anyone can make it to the top, it’s hockey.

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The bottom line is there will always be Mr. Browsers telling you that you can't do it.

Don't listen to them.
 
If you're under 18 years old and want to play in the NHL one day, I hope in my future blogs I’ll be able to pass along some things I've learned over the years that could help you get there. Things like:

• How to get a college scholarship and why you should choose college over junior.
• Keys to making it to the pros.
• Signing your first contract, getting traded, sent down, called up and anything else that can and will happen.
• Dealing with the media and fans.
• Life after hockey and how to prepare for it.
 
I'd also like to share with you stories you don't usually hear about. Things like:

• Life on the road as a minor leaguer.
• Why getting called up to the NHL isn't always glamorous.
• Playing with and against superstars like Brett Hull and Ray Bourque.
• Why hockey players are the nicest guys you will ever meet.
• What it takes to make a hockey video game and how to get into the video game industry.
 
Check back every few weeks and I will do my best to share my experiences with you.

A native of Flushing, N.Y., David Littman was drafted by the Sabres in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He spent four years at Boston College before turning pro in 1989. Over the next 10 years, Littman would play in the ECHL, IHL, AHL and NHL (with Buffalo and Tampa Bay). The 40-year-old currently works as a producer for the wildly popular EA Sports NHL series of video games.

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