Macklin Celebrini explains the viewership numbers for the Oilers-Canucks NHL playoff game – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

Editor’s note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California's Sharks coverage. Find more of his reporting on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.

BUFFALO, NY – Macklin Celebrini's first NHL appearance as a member of the Sharks will also be his first time playing in a San Jose game.

This may be surprising considering Celebrini played one season with the Jr. Sharks in 2019-20.

“I never really had time to go to one,” Celebrini told San Jose Hockey Now in a one-on-one interview at the 2024 NHL Draft Combine.

Celebrini will have plenty of time to attend Sharks games after San Jose selected him No. 1 overall in the 2024 NHL Draft on June 28 in Las Vegas.

The Combine is the beginning of that relationship with the Sharks. Celebrini said he had dinner and chicken at the popular Buffalo Chophouse with general manager Mike Grier and company.

“I think every dinner takes place there,” laughed Celebrini. He said it was a good time and there were a lot of jokes.

Celebrini has also recently been in touch with Will Smith, the Sharks' No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft, who recently announced he is turning pro. Although Celebrini has never played with Smith, they have played against each other for years, at various levels from the USHL to the NCAA.

“He finishes plays you don't think he's going to finish,” Celebrini said. “We text back and forth a little bit.”

Even though Celebrini doesn't publicly admit that he's going to be a Shark, he knows he's going to San Jose.

He knows that after June 28, he can no longer be a Vancouver Canucks fan… at least not to that extent.

Celebrini grew up in Vancouver and was a huge fan of Ryan Kesler as a child. He even got his favorite number, 17, from the exemplary two-way center, who played for the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks from 2003 to 2019.

“I think I started to love him when he broke out,” Celebrini said of Kesler's 41-goal Selke Trophy season in 2010-11. “He played unbelievably, he was pretty much the best player on the Canucks with the Sedins, with his game. I remember going to a Canucks game, seeing him, and he scored, like, two goals. From then on, I just loved him.”

Did Celebrini, who is himself considered a beautiful two-way center, model his game on the nervous Kesler?

“Sure,” he said, “[But] I watched him more as a fan than to learn something.”

All of this helped Celebrini become a fan of the Canucks, which culminated in Celebrini attending Game 7 of the Canucks' Western Conference semifinals against the Edmonton Oilers with his older brother Aiden in May.

This is the last time he cheers for the Canucks, right?

“Yeah, probably,” he laughed. “I'm not with an NHL club right now. I took the opportunity to support a team that has come a long way.”

Of course, defenseman Aiden Celebrini was also selected in the sixth round of the 2023 draft… by Vancouver.

“I guess I'll stay a Canucks fan for a while because of my brother,” he laughed. “I think that's allowed.”

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