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Welcome To This Week’s Newsletter

 

A couple was sitting at the breakfast table. The wife looked over to the next door neighbour’s yard and noticed that her neighbour was hanging her clothes outside to dry.

The wife remarked that the clothes looked “dingy”.

She commented that the neighbour must be using cheap detergent, or not washing the clothes properly.

Over the next week, on a couple of occasions, the neighbour was hanging her clothes and  the wife continued to make comments of how her neighbour was not a competent clothes washer, and how dirty the clothes must be.

The following week, the wife noticed how bright and beautiful the neighbour’s clothes were, and how the neighbour must have changed detergents or learned to use her washer properly, and she commented on it.

The husband, who was reading the newspaper  at the time, looked up and said, “Yesterday, I washed the windows“….

This is a story that I can relate to every day in the activities that I do as I go about talking to teams about players that I work with.

I often run into situations where players are observed through tainted or pre-judged “windows”. This most often is the result of a recruiter not doing his job properly, and relying on another person’s opinion….. It happens every day.

In most cases, the very first things that we do when we begin working with new clients is ensure that the “windows are clean”. “I do windows!”

Just a thought as we enter the important second half of the season.

 


Sincerely,

David MacDonald, SPAD
Hockey Family Advisor


 

Posted in Newsletter

12 Days of Hockey

This has some old, but familiar faces in it…. Enjoy…..

Posted in Fun, NHL

Sportsmanship shines at college softball game

Sara Tucholsky got a lift from the opposition in scoring her first homer.

Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career. Central Washington senior Mallory Holtman was already her school’s career leader in them. But when a twist of fate and a torn knee ligament brought them face to face with each other and face to face with the end of their playing days, they combined on a home run trot that celebrated the collective human spirit far more than individual athletic achievement.

Both schools compete as Division II softball programs in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Neither has ever reached the NCAA tournament at the Division II level. But when they arrived for Saturday’s conference doubleheader at Central Washington’s 300-seat stadium in Ellensburg, a small town 100 miles and a mountain range removed from Seattle, the hosts resided one game behind the visitors at the top of the conference standings. As was the case at dozens of other diamonds across the map, two largely anonymous groups prepared to play the most meaningful games of their seasons.

It was a typical Saturday of softball in April, right down to a few overzealous fans heckling an easy target, the diminutive Tucholsky, when she came to the plate in the top of the second inning of the second game with two runners on base and the game still scoreless after Western Oregon’s 8-1 win in the first game of the afternoon.

Strength Training Takes On Many Forms

Sean Skahan

Whenever I have the opportunity to interact with coaches and parents, I’m always asked the question: When should my son/daughter start strength training?

My general response is around 12 to 14 years old, depending on the physical maturity level of the child, but I always have to take into consideration their perception of strength training.

Usually, the perspective from a parent’s view is lifting really heavy weights with barbells or dumbbells while grunting and straining through each repetition. That’s probably not something I’d recommend for kids under the ages of 12-14.

But when you think about it, kids are already strength training in lots of different ways; it just may not seem like it because it doesn’t have any real structure.

Some of the most basic strength-training advice is to “master body-weight exercises first, and when proper technique is established, add resistance.”

That’s true in a traditional sense, because we wouldn’t want to put a barbell with weight on a young kid’s back and ask them to do squats without being able to execute a proper body-weight squat. However, how many times do see young kids doing body-weight exercises without thinking that they might be “strength training?”

Have you ever seen a kid squat down to pick something up?  Or maybe they do some plyometrics while playing games that include jumping or hopping at the park?  I really enjoy watching my 4-year-old son do this all the time; so is 4 years old too young for plyometrics?

As parents and coaches, we may tend to be afraid of having our young athletes participate in a series of exercises because we may view it as traditional strength training. However, we may not realize that kids may already be strength training or doing plyometrics without even thinking about it.

When kids put on their hockey equipment and go out and practice, that could technically be considered strength training when you think about adding resistance to body weight.  Off the ice, kids are squatting, lunging, running, hopping and skipping all the time; unfortunately, there are also many kids who are sitting on their butts way too much while playing video games or surfing the Internet after school.

First and foremost, I would recommend young kids to start playing more sports and games. As for a traditional routine, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with kids doing body-weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and step-ups, which are movements that kids should be doing. These exercises done with strict adherence to proper technique are beneficial.

Kids can start understanding that strength training for hockey should include exercises that involve multi-muscle and joint movements.  Leave the single-joint exercises, such as bicep curls and leg extensions, for the aspiring bodybuilders.  Then, when they’re 12-14 years old, they can start adding resistance in the form of a barbell or dumbbells and start progressing from there.

But first, we may need to get some of them off their butts and start moving.

 

Posted in Health, Training

Asking for a Trade – The Reasonable Approach

 

by Jason Nadeau

In my last article series, ‘So What If Your Coach Hates You” (Nov 22nd), I argued that it is important to focus on controlling what you can actually control: how you can get better, grow as a player and improve your skill set in the time that you have left. I think that this is still sound advice for any level of development. However, the realities are that at some point, you will have exhausted all of your patience, chances and / or false promises from the Team. It is time to explore moving on, it is time to ask for a TRADE!

I’m not going to bore you with a textbook seminar on negotiation and mediation, I’ll focus on the options you have and when it is best to implement them.

The one thing that people do not realize is that this can very much be like breaking up with your wife or long time partner. As funny as that sounds, both parties have put significant amounts or blood, sweat and tears into this relationship and letting go and moving on may not be easy for some. The outcome can depend entirely on the GM or Coach with whom you are negotiating. Is he an even tempered and fair minded person or a ‘Napoleon Complex’ type who let’s you know in no uncertain terms that it is “his way or the highway”!? Does he actually care about your development or is it all business? Is he a scorched earth kinda person? Lastly, does he prefer intimidation and yelling or more civilized consensus based discussion?

Having dealt with Coaches and Management in 17 Countries from NHL GM’s to Swedish Eliteserien Directors of Player Personnel, and having actually been a minor professional Coach myself, I know that things are never cut and dry. And to be honest, in 90%+ of instances, most negotiations or player discussions are dealt with directly, reasonably fairly as there aren’t a lot of surprises. When a Player isn’t playing well or up to expectations or is stuck in a secondary role that limits his development and statistical production, EVERYONE knows this fact and no one is blindsided by the desire for change from either party.

The problems arise in two instances. First, when either the management or player has a totally different view of reality. Second, when the ego’s involved are totally disproportionate to the importance of the situation.

These types of scenarios when combined with the temperament and negotiating styles of the Management drastically affect your approach to a Trade.

Asking for a Trade

If the main reason to leave is to be closer to home or another such personal reason, it is better to be up front about it from the beginning, those types of trades can and should be sorted out with little difficulty if you are sincere and properly explain your reasoning. I will focus on the situations where you just need to move on for a change of scenery for professional reasons.

Having exhausted all other options, the next step is to approach your coach or manager and have a candid discussion. Ideally, you would outline all the previous steps you had taken to improve your place on the team but that it was just not working and better if both parties moved in different directions.

Now I would recommend that you be as flexible for the club as possible in finding them a fair return on their investment. Ideally, you would communicate that you will not go public with your desires and would prefer to continue practicing and playing as hard as possible while they explored options so as to maximize their leverage and your trade value.

At this point, even though you have irreconcilable differences you have demonstrated that you are being reasonable and accommodating as possible out of respect for the Manager and the Team. If he is still talking to you at this point and is willing to consider your desires it would be a good time to give him a list of potential destinations that you would prefer but make it clear that you are not holding out nor demanding outrageous concessions.

In a perfect scenario you would keep an open dialogue and he would take the appropriate amount of time to make a deal that works for you and the club.

Some might say that this is a dream world scenario, but respect and direct communication where both parties know exactly what they want and what the other parties’ expectations are usually leads to a positive outcome.

In all honesty, about 50% of the times that I have had to help a player in requesting a trade, we have been able to work things out in this manner. Unfortunately, in the other 50% of instances, personality traits and hurt feelings have resulted in a more adversarial process.

 

Goaltender Development

Devan McConnell

Off-ice training is crucial towards goaltender development. In today’s game goaltenders must be the most athletic players on the ice. A good training program will build the fundamentals of that athleticism and provide the transfer of the highly specialized skills necessary to be a successful goaltender. Many myths still persist about what to do and what not to do when it comes to off-ice training, such as a long run and stretch being adequate preparation for high level competition. However, when the time is taken and the expertise applied to breakdown the demands of the position, a proper off-ice training program can be combined with on-ice development to help a goaltender fully reach his or her potential.

Often times if there is any focus at all on development off the ice, the recommendations are archaic and rooted in a lack of physiological understanding, to say the least. Cardiovascular endurance, static flexibility, and high volume-low intensity weight training are the common themes preached by well meaning but uninformed coaches. “Develop that aerobic base, increase your flexibility, and don’t lift heavy or you will get too big” is the mantra passed down from coach to player. At first glance, this might seem like a logical recommendation. Goaltenders play the entire game, are called upon to sprawl and stretch across the ice to make dramatic saves, and are not actively involved in body checking. However, from the standpoint of athletic development, this outdated recipe does little to help the modern goaltender, and probably ends up hindering him.

Let’s first look at the misunderstood concept of the energy system demands required by the goaltender. The common thought process is that the goaltender plays the entire game and therefore needs to have a vast amount of cardiovascular endurance. Long duration, steady state aerobic exercise is usually advised to develop this “aerobic base”. Unfortunately, this thought process is inherently flawed. The primary energy system demands of the goaltender are not aerobic, but anaerobic. This means that the goaltender does not continuously work at a low to moderate level throughout a game, but instead has short bursts of high intensity work, followed by periods of rest. Goalies work very hard while the puck is in their zone to fight for position, react to plays, and make saves. This is followed by periods of recovery while the play moves up the ice. Training a “work-recover-repeat” athlete via aerobic steady state exercise will do nothing to increase his ability to work at high intensities and recover quickly.

In addition to the interval-based pattern of the game, there are always two intermissions. These break up the amount of time a goaltender could be working into 20-minute segments. Furthermore, stoppages in play due to penalties, off sides, icing, covered pucks and even T.V. timeouts clearly provide periods of rest in between the moments of action.

Now that we have a better understanding of the cardiovascular demands of the position, we can implement a more effective conditioning program for the goaltender. Instead of long duration aerobic exercise, we would utilize HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. This is a method of conditioning which involves very high intensity work for short durations, followed by periods of recovery. Not only does this clearly mimic the on ice demands of the position, HIIT has been shown to be a more effective method than steady state aerobic work for increasing VO2 max, improving body composition, and preparing an anaerobic athlete for the specific metabolic demands of their game. So even for that coach who is still convinced of the need for an “aerobic base”, the research clearly shows that high intensity interval training is still a more effective method to produce the desired results than long slow runs and bike rides. HIIT training will also achieve the desired results without any of the negative effects on strength and power that long aerobic work will have.

Just as engrained in tradition as conditioning work, flexibility training is an area where outdated practices still permeate the advice given to goaltenders. Flexibility is obviously of great concern as the demands of the position often call for the athlete to display incredible feats of contortion to make highlight reel saves. From an injury reduction standpoint it would seem equally as important to increase flexibility to ensure that the goaltender can perform these types of movements without “pulling” a muscle.

Again, at face value this seems straightforward. However, a deeper understanding of the physiological reasons behind most muscle strains and “pulls” will suggest a decreased emphasis on the traditional stretching protocols. A player rarely strains a muscle due to inadequate length of the tissue; instead, this injury is the result of a weak or underactive primary muscle. Often a player will “pull” his groin and thus be under the impression the muscle was not long enough. He will focus much of their attention on static stretching, only to return to the lineup and suffer the same injury. This is because the length of the muscle was in fact never the issue. What usually occurs is that the primary muscle needed for a particular movement is weak or underactive, and so a secondary muscle will have to work overtime to cover the other’s inadequacies. Usually this secondary muscle is not able withstand the increased demand of this role, and will in effect “give out” resulting in a strain.

Now I am not saying stretching is unimportant. What I am saying is it is probably over-emphasized in the goaltending world, not done as efficiently and specifically as possible, and more time should be placed in other parts of the training process. Most goaltenders spend so much of their time static stretching, they end up missing out on other key components of training that would do more to elevate their game. Clearly, flexibility and a flexibility reserve are important, however most go overboard and just do too much. Anecdotally, just think about how incredibly flexible most goaltenders are in their groin and hamstring musculature, yet they still sustain strains to these areas with alarming regularity. If flexibility were the only answer, these athletes would have solved the problem 100 years ago.

Another bit of food for thought is the lack of carryover from a slow, static stretch to a rapid, dynamic contraction-elongation of the muscles during the sport. Nobody pulls his or her groin just sitting on the ice, holding a split. They get hurt when they rapidly have to move in and out of that position. A greater focus on dynamic flexibility in the training process and especially pre practice and competition primes the body for the actual demands of the game.

Another common fear or misconception of the goaltender is that of gaining too much muscle mass from heavy strength training. While I agree there is no need for a goaltender to look like a bodybuilder, and in fact this would be a detriment to their performance on the ice, the fact is heavy strength training will do little to significantly increase muscle mass. It will however improve the goaltender’s ability be explosive, decrease the chance of injury, and maintain stamina throughout a long season. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that goalies should train like strongmen or power lifters. I am saying they should train like the rest of their teammates. In a good strength and conditioning program, what is really being developed is the athleticism needed to fully express one’s skill set during competition.

In the modern game, goaltenders need to be the most athletic players on the team. They need to be explosive, strong, well conditioned, highly reactive and coordinated. There is no better way to develop these attributes than by training in a manner that will progressively improve each of these areas. The traditional high rep-low weight, little to no lower body “strength” training most goaltenders have been told to perform is a great recipe for developing non-functional hypertrophy (meaning increased muscle mass which doesn’t contribute to actual performance).  This will also result in slower reactions, less forceful movement, and most importantly a loss of much needed strength and power necessary for performance and injury reduction.

A sound strength and conditioning program will develop the underlying attributes which a goaltender’s highly specialized and technical skill set is built upon. It’s just like building a house; you have to build the foundation before you worry about putting up the walls. A goaltender’s butterfly pushing technique might be impeccable, but if he is not explosive enough to quickly get across the crease, all that will happen is a smooth moving goalie pulling the puck out of his net. The foundation must be developed to have the ability to exercise that skill set to the best of the goaltender’s ability.

This athletic foundation must be built with proper training, including Olympic lifts, squat and deadlift variations with an emphasis on single leg training, balanced upper body work, along with core stabilization, pre-hab and mobility.  These fundamentals, along with a conditioning program intelligently designed to address the specific energy system demands of the position will allow the goaltender to utilize his on ice skills to the best of their potential.

Devan McConnell is a Sports Performance Coach at Stanford University. He is also a former college goaltender and has experience working with athletes across a wide range of ages and sports, including the NHL. He can be reached at DevanM@Stanford.edu

 

When to Sign in the WHL? 1st Year Midget Players

by Jason Nadeau

The eternal question for all hockey prospects in North America is IF they should sign in the WHL or its other CHL brethren the QMJHL or OHL? Now, this issue is so big, I can’t really give you advice worth listening to without knowing your individual circumstances. In fact, my position is that choosing between the CHL or NCAA is entirely dependent upon your own specific situation and there is no general ‘correct’ answer or path to follow.

I would actually put aside the issue of IF and concentrate on the one that I can provide some insight on, WHEN should you sign in the WHL/CHL? I have put together an INNOVATIVE and ORIGINAL statistical examination of the WHL that analyses how many games are played by first and second year prospects. This should provide an interesting look at who actually gets ice-time and IF it is in your best interest to sign and play as soon as possible or to wait and explore other options.

This will be a multi-part discussion that examines two seasons in the Western Hockey League, the 2007-08 & 2008-09 seasons. I don’t want to just throw a bunch of stats at you because it will be too convoluted to wade through. I think the best approach will be to break down each discussion point by issue and statistical results and then provide my conclusions. Hopefully, this will allow you a point of reference from which to make up your own mind on your best career path. And if you have already made a decision, this information should at least provide you with a benchmark to evaluate your current progress by.

The Raw Statistical Data is Below.

WHL 2007-08 1991′s

WHL 2007-08 1992′s

WHL 2008-09 1992′s

WHL 2008-09 1993′s

I will divide it up and provide you with the results throughout the articles.

Part 1: 1st Year Midget Players in the WHL – 5 Game Rule

Below is a chart that examines 1992 through 1993 birth years in their first season of WHL eligibility.

Total Players Signed (1992)-2007-08                     42

Total Games Played                                                    152

Players Per Team Who Played Games                     1.9

Avg GP Per Player                                                     3.62

Total Players Signed (1993)-2008-09                      29

Total Games Played                                                    107

Players Per Team Who Played Games                  1.32

Avg GP Per Player                                                       3.7

Now, I’ll do my best to explain what I was evaluating and what its consequences are, if any?

Let’s start with the data on 1st year WHL players. This is a group of players that are ONLY allowed to play 5 games during the course of the regular season with their ‘designated’ WHL or CHL club. If their midget team is eliminated from further competition, they are allowed to play beyond that 5 game mark during the playoff run of the Major Junior team.

1) How many players actually play in their first season & How many games do they typically play?

The combined results for first year players (71 total players) show us that an average of 35.5 players or 1.82 player per team actually played games each year and that the players averaged 3.65 games played each.

So this begs the question, What benefits do players have by signing in their first year of CHL eligibility for their 5 game ‘experience’?  The obvious answer is the experience itself. This definitely has merit for a lot of players, much like a call-up to the BIG club    AHL to NHL, actual game play in the regular season helps players to realize how far they still have to come and what they need to focus on to improve their game or it reinforces their confidence and they now see that they can play effectively at that level in the future.

However, let’s cut to the chase and examine the benefits from a more materialistic, ‘What’s in it for me’ approach? The CHL is bound to provide each player a FULL year scholarship at the college/university level for every season that a player plays in the CHL. As long as a player plays at least 1 game each season, they are bound to provide that financial assistance to a player at the end of their CHL career. This is a good way to ensure you are getting partial financial coverage of your future academic career, especially if the result of playing that one game is losing out any hope of earning a NCAA scholarship. At the CHL level, hockey is a 100 Million Dollar PLUS business each year, make sure you are NOT taken advantage of while protecting your own future interests and career.

2) Who actually plays WHL games?

Of that 71 players who gain WHL experience, 33 or 46.5% of the total amount of players were either 1st or 2nd round WHL draft picks. The overwhelming majority of the remaining players were 3rd-4th rounders with VERY FEW being mid to late round picks.

Since the majority of signings are top draft picks, who other then those elite few benefits from signing a CHL contract at this point or earlier?

If I were a 5thround or later draft pick or an undrafted player, I would NOT even worry for 1 second about considering the WHL option at this age group. Concentrate on your 1st season of Midget hockey and sleep better at night (that goes for you parents as well). The data proves that you wont play and further, what benefit do you truly get from playing 3.65 games?

However, if I were a high round pick, my best advice would be to treat this 3-5 game audition for what it is….. LEVERAGE!!!!

Let’s face facts, the only reason the WHL has their Bantam Draft 1 year earlier then the OHL is that they want to eliminate the NCAA option and competition for players as soon as possible. If you notice ALL the rhetoric being spewed back and forth lately between the NCAA and the CHL you will find that the large majority of it comes from the OHL because they still have to compete for higher end players at later dates then is the case in the WHL. On the West coast, it is largely a moot discussion because our results show that the top 35+ players of each group sign WHL/CHL contracts before they are even eligible to play Junior hockey on a regular basis! It is a great way to control your market and your products, which are of course, your children.

Let’s face it, 5 games is NOT going to really affect how you play the following year or impact in a major way IF you make the team or not, nor make a big difference in the grand scheme of things developmentally. They want to deny you the NCAA option as soon as possible. Even if you have NO INTENTION of going the NCAA route, use this leverage for ALL that it is worth. Gain every possible concession that you can. Negotiate as many years of scholarship in advance as possible. Now, the WHL has tried to limit the amount of years that a team can provide a player at one time, but never forget that these are multi-million dollar businesses and they can and will bend the rules to suit their own purposes whenever they can. In the VERY least, trade your NCAA rights for at LEAST TWO years of WHL scholarship guarantees. The more you can get in advance the better for your future. We all know that CHL teams sometimes pay their veteran players significant salaries to fill their arenas instead of that player turning pro early. Therefore, they are sometimes willing to be creative in securing their latest and most valuable ‘products’. So remember to use one of the few instances in your young career where you can rightfully leverage your value for a reasonable return!

I will conclude this discussion in my next article before moving on to the topic of 2nd year Midget players and a prospects true first year of Junior Eligibility!

 

Five Exercises That Hockey Players Should Be Doing in the Weight Room

Sean Skahan

Here are five exercises that are effective for hockey players at any level. They are also exercises that consist of using minimal equipment including barbells, dumbbells, and weights. These are also 5 “staple exercises” in our program. I would also classify these exercises as “Pareto Principle” exercises which are 20% of our exercises that give us 80% of our results in the weight room.

1- Front Squat – I really think that improving double leg strength is important for hockey players. Although hockey players do actually skate on 1-leg at a time, there is also plenty of time during a game when a player is in the gliding phase of skating. They may be gliding up the ice during a shift or may be battling in front of the net with 2 skates on the ice.

We front squat during the off-season once per week and will use it at the beginning of the in-season phase prior to transitioning to 1-leg variations. With front squats, we are able to get better, consistent technique across the board with an adequate load on the bar. In my view, this is unlike the back squat where you may see several variations being performed in a team setting. Examples of back squat variations would be the bar positioning on the back, depth differences, and torso positioning. With front squats, the bar is always held across the shoulders with the elbows up. The torso position allows the athlete to squat deeper because it is upright. If the torso isn’t upright, then the athlete will drop the bar.

One of the most important factors to consider is the load on the bar. Proper technique in any exercise needs to be established first and foremost. In my experience, what breaks technical proficiency down is too much load. Injuries occur as a result of the load being too much which causes form to break down.

2- 1-Leg Squat– the 1-Leg Squat and its variations are key exercises in our program. Although we still front squat (see number 1 above), we will always do 1-leg squats within our program during both of the off-season and in-season phases.

1-leg squats can be performed anywhere. In-season, we actually perform them in the visiting team locker rooms on the road when we don’t have access to adequate facilities. They are great exercises that really help us in the injury prevention process.

3- Hang Clean – Young hockey players need to be developing power. For us, the best way that has worked over time is Olympic lift variations. We will do cleans, snatches (both barbell and dumbbell), and jerks (also both barbell and dumbbell) from the hang position. Simply, we ask our athletes to move the weight as fast as possible with great technique.

The reason why we do them from the hang position versus the floor is that like the front squats, I consistently see better Olympic lift variations from the hang position. I have seen many different variations of pulls from the floor throughout the last 12 years or so. I have unfortunately seen too many back injuries both acute and long term. Too much can go wrong with pulls from the floor than with the hang position. Please ensure that proper technique is established before progressing. We are not training Olympic weightlifters.

In my coaching situation, I always need to look at what the perceived advantage of one exercise is versus another. I really don’t see the necessary advantage of lifting from the floor versus the hang but I do see a much safer variation that can give the same results.

4- 1-Leg Dumbbell S.L.D.L. – This is another staple in our strength and conditioning program. We call it a 1-leg DB S.L.D.L. when it may be more of a 1-leg slightly bent knee deadlift. We are able to get a good exercise for the posterior chain while balancing on 1-leg. The coaching cues for this exercise include having a flat back, sliding the dumbbell or kettlebell down the leg until either there is a stretch in the hamstring or the back can’t maintain its arch. Then the athlete will proceed to come back up.

Like the 1-leg squat, this is another exercise that can be done anywhere.

5- Pull up- Pull ups and vertical pulling variations have been in my programs ever since I started writing them. I see absolutely no reason to remove them. Athletes need more upper back strength and pull ups have shown to give you the most bang for the buck.

The inability to do pull ups is an indicator of weak upper back strength. People with weak upper backs are more prone to injury, especially at the shoulder joint(s) which is important for athletes in contact sports such as hockey. In my experience, the athletes who don’t (or in their mind can’t do pull ups) are the same athletes with bad shoulders. They could also be just plain lazy.

Pull ups need to be done correctly for the athlete to get the full benefit. Proper execution is when the athlete starts at full extension and proceeds to pull his/her chin up over the bar. Then they need to lower themselves under control to full extension before doing the next rep.

 

Posted in Tips, Training

Ones to Watch – 2012 NHL Draft (Preliminary – North America)

Ontario Hockey League

Skaters
1. Nail Yakupov     Sarnia     RW
2. Alex Galchenyuk     Sarnia     C
3. Olli Maatta     London     D
4. Radek Faksa     Kitchener     C
5. Jarrod Maidens     Owen Sound     C
6. Andreas Athanasiou     London     C
7. Brendan Gaunce     Belleville     C
8. Scott Kosmachuk     Guelph     RW
9. Slater Koekkoek     Peterborough     D
10. Cody Ceci     Ottawa     D
11. Thomas Wilson     Plymouth     RW
12. Gemel Smith     Owen Sound     C
13. Trevor Carrick     Mississauga St. Michael’s     D
14. Dane Fox     London     C
15. Matthew Finn     Guelph     D
16. Matia Marcantuoni     Kitchener     C
17. Gianluca Curcuruto     Sault Ste. Marie     D
18. Michael Clarke     Windsor     C
19. Brady Vail     Windsor     LW
20. Chris Tierney     London     LW
21 Dylan Blujus     Brampton     D
22. Tanner Pearson     Barrie     LW
23. Kristoff Kontos     Sudbury     C
24. Joel Wigle     Niagra     RW
25. Artur Gavrus     Owen Sound     LW
*LV Even Mceneny     Kitchener     D
*LV Adam Pelech     Erie     D
*LV Daniil Zharkov     Belleville     LW
*LV – Limited Viewing

Goaltenders
1. Malcolm Subban     Belleville     G
2. Jake Paterson     Saginaw     G
3. Matthew Murray     Sault Ste. Marie     G
4. Clint Windsor     Barrie     G
5. Daniel Altshuller     Ottawa     G
6. Andrew D’Agostini     Peterborough     G
7. Jake Patterson     London     G

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Skaters
1. Mikhail Grigorenko     Quebec     C
2. Martin Frk     Halifax     RW
3. Raphael Bussieres     Baie-Comeau     LW
4. Francis Beauvillier     Rimouski     LW
5. Charles Hudon     Chicoutimi     LW
6. Justin Hache     Shawinigan     D
7. Christophe Lalancette     Acadie-Bathurst     RW
8. James Melindy     Moncton     D
9. Taylor Burke     Gatineau     C
10. Tomas Hyka     Gatineau     RW
11. Vladislav Shalimov     Val-d’Or     RW
12. Denis Kamayev     Rouyn-Noranda     RW
13. Matej Beran     PEI     C
14. Petr Sidlik     Victoriaville     D
15. Liam O’Brien     Rimouski     LW
16. Gabriel Fortin     Rimouski     D
17. Loic Leduc     Cape Breton     D
18. Raphael Corriveau     Quebec     RW
19. Dillon Fournier     Rouyn-Noranda     D
20. Dominic Poulin     Chicoutimi     D
21. Ryan Culkin     Quebec     D
22. Felix Girard     Baie-Comeau     C
23. Alexandre LeClerc     Rouyn-Noranda     D
24. Sven Andrighetto     Rouyn-Noranda     RW
25. Luca Ciampini     Halifax     LW
*LV Andrew Ryan     Halifax     LW
*LV – Limited Viewing

Goaltenders
1. Francois Tremblay     Val-d’Or     G
2. Brandon Whitney     Victoriaville     G
3. Francois Brassard     Quebec     G
4. Maxime Lagace     PEI     G
5. Jacob Brennan     Acadie-Bathurst     G
6. Philippe Trudeau     Cape Breton     G
7. Alex Dubeau     Shawinigan     G

United States Hockey League

Skaters
1. Jacob Trouba     USA U-18     D
2. Zemgus Girgensons     Dubuque     C
3. Michael Matheson     Dubuque     D
4. Stefan Matteau     USA U-18     C
5. Brady Skjei     USA U-18     D
6. Jordan Schmaltz     Green Bay     D
7. Nicolas Kerdiles     USA U-18     LW
8. Matthew DeBlouw     Muskegon     C
9. Brian Cooper     Fargo     D
10. Patrick Sieloff     USA U-18     D
11. Robert Baillargeon     Indiana     C
12. Nikolas Olsson     USA U-18     RW
13. Thomas DiPauli     USA U-18     C
14. A.J. Michaelson     Waterloo     C
15. Zac Aston-Reese     Lincoln     C
16. Gavin Stoick     USA U-18     RW
17. Austyn Young     Sioux Falls     LW
18. Vince Hinostroza     Waterloo     C
19. Kevin Roy     Lincoln     C
20. Cameron Darcy     USA U-18     C
21. Frank Vatrano     USA U-18     C
22. Dakota Mermis     Green Bay     D
23. Quentin Shore     USA U-18     C
24. Clifford Watson     Sioux City     D
25. Riley Barber     USA U-18     RW

Goaltenders
1. Jon Gillies     Indiana     G
2. Collin Olson     USA U-18     G
3. Alex Lyon     Omaha     G
4. Stephon Williams     Sioux Falls     G
5. Jared Rutledge     USA U-18     G
6. Matthew Morris     Dubuque     G

Western Hockey League

Skaters
1. Ryan Murray     Everett     D
2. Morgan Rielly     Moose Jaw     D
3. Mathew Dumba     Red Deer     D
4. Derrick Pouliot     Portland     D
5. Griffin Reinhart     Edmonton     D
6. Colton Sissons     Kelowna     C
7. Chandler Stephenson     Regina     C
8. Coda Gordon     Swift Current     LW
9. Mike Winther     Prince Albert     C
10. Nicholas Walters     Everett     D
11. Brandon Troock     Seattle     RW
12. Brett Kulak     Vancouver     D
13. Damon Severson     Kelowna     D
14. Dalton Thrower     Saskatoon     D
15. Dominik Volek     Regina     RW
16. Michal Plutnar     Tri-City     D
17. Tyrel Seaman     Brandon     LW
18. Lukas Sutter     Saskatoon     C
19. Brendan Leipsic     Portland     LW
20. Shayne Gwinner     Moose Jaw     D
21. Ryan Olsen     Saskatoon     C
22. Travis Brown     Moose Jaw     D
23. Timothe Bozon     Kamloops     C/LW/RW
24. Steven Hodges     Victoria     C
25. Alessio Bertaggia     Brandon     LW

Goaltenders
1. Andrey Makarov     Saskatoon     G
2. Chris Driedger     Calgary     G
3. Patrik Bartosak     Red Deer     G
4. Mackenzie Skapski     Kootenay     G
5. Corbin Boes     Brandon     G
6. Cole Holowenko     Prince Albert     G

NCAA Watch List

Eastern College Athletic Conference – B Skaters
Joakim Ryan     Cornell     D

Eastern College Athletic Conference – C Skaters
Nelson Armstrong     St. Lawrence     D
Cole Bardreau     Cornell     C
Shayne Gostisbehere     Union College     D
Ryan Haggerty     Rennsselaer     RW
Matthew Harlow     Brown     LW
Matt Killian     Yale     D
Brandon McNally     Dartmouth     LW
Kevin Tansey     Clarkson     D

Hockey East – B Skaters
Destry Straight     Boston College     D

Hockey East – C Skaters
Joseph Manno     Northeastern     C
Adam Reid     Northeastern     LW

Central Collegiate Hockey Association – A Skaters
Phillip Di Giuseppe     U. of Michigan     LW     5′ 11.5″     176

Central Collegiate Hockey Association – B Skaters
Austin Wuthrich     Notre Dame     RW

Western Collegiate Hockey Association – A Skaters
Jake McCabe     U. of Wisconsin     D

Western Collegiate Hockey Association – B Skaters
Brendan Woods     U. of Wisconsin     LW

Western Collegiate Hockey Association – C Skaters
Jarrod Rabey     St. Cloud State     D

Posted in Junior Hockey, NCAA, NHL, USHL

SOMEWHERE IN THE CANADIAN PRAIRIES — Chris Edwards has been there and done that.

Blizzards, snow-covered roadways, temperatures around minus-20 degrees — it’s all par for the course when it comes to life as a scout and being on the road.

The 72-hour, four-city venture to view three junior-hockey matchups in Western Canada comes to an end Friday when Edwards, a scout for NHL Central Scouting, and the two-man crew from NHL.com make the six-hour journey from Moose Jaw to Lethbridge.

What a finish, eh?

Edwards had every intention of driving two hours west from Moose Jaw to Swift Current following Thursday’s final game of the Canada-Russia Subway Super Series, but nasty weather conditions forced a change in the itinerary. It’s something that is common for these daring men with the spiral notebooks, ball-point pens and lineup cards.

“It happens a couple times in the year, where weather, injuries or suspensions (to players) are out of your control and you have to make due,” Edwards told NHL.com. “I wouldn’t say it’s typical. In fact, I probably would have plowed through if we desperately needed to get to Lethbridge early on Friday. As it is, that’s not the case, so no sense in taking that chance.”

Approximately 24 hours after witnessing three of the top 2012 NHL Draft-eligible prospects in defenseman Mathew Dumba of Red Deer, center Colton Sissons of Kelowna and goalie Andrey Makarov of Saskatoon at the Brandt Centre in Regina, Sask., Edwards was right back at it Thursday, charting 2013 draft prospect Ryan Pulock of Brandon at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

“I generally like to see a player three times during the year or as much as you can,” Edwards said. “It always doesn’t really work out that way, though, especially when you run into problems with injuries.”

Several players that Edwards thought he’d be grading weren’t available because of injury, including Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray, Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman Griffin Reinhart and Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Morgan Rielly.

“You just have to make do,” he said.

Normally, Edwards would have been going solo on this particular trip. The fact he had some company was a bonus, as life can get awfully quiet on the road.

In fact, it was interesting to note that Edwards doesn’t even require a navigational device or map. He knew the grid of every city as if it were his own.

“In my opinion, if you get lost out here, you deserve it,” he said.

The 41-year-old Edwards does carry with him a portable satellite radio on every trip. It was right around the time Edwards made the left onto Thatcher Drive in Moose Jaw that he considered staying put instead of risking the two-hour trek into Swift Current to lodge for the night.

Actually, the decision enabled the 22-year veteran of Central Scouting the opportunity to show NHL.com the town. He pointed out legendary “Mac the Moose,” a gigantic replica of the area’s favorite mammal, which stands 30 feet tall and weighs 10 tons. Located at the Tourism Moose Jaw Visitor Centre, ‘Mac’ has become a picture spot for any visitor.

He also passed by the old Moose Jaw Civic Centre that he and the locals refer to as “The Crushed Can” for its dipping, saddle-like rooftop.

Edwards also took us to local eateries where he and the late director of NHL Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire, broke bread on several occasions. Not a lot of clientele in the eateries, however. It was eerie in a way; the serenity and remoteness of it all. He ordered a salad and the special on the menu, a rib-eye steak with some vegetables and a glass of ginger ale.

“I remember one time,” Edwards said while pointing to a hotel next to the restaurant, “E.J. couldn’t get an Internet signal. But he figured out that when his hotel door was open, the signal was stronger, so that’s what he did. He kept his door open the whole time he needed Internet access. When E.J. set his mind to something, you can bet it was going to happen.”

McGuire was a topic of discussion throughout the trip, and for good reason. Edwards established a close bond with the scouting guru, as did all the scouts at Central Scouting.

The two would drive countless miles at ungodly hours for many of the 10 years McGuire served as scouting director.

In fact, those long drives a scout has to endure was another recurring theme throughout the trip. Sure, the end result could be as rewarding as any grand prize when an NHL team selects a future star based on the recommendation of Central Scouting, but Edwards realizes he isn’t in the business of pats on the back.

Scouting is an unheralded art, something that only can be appreciated by those who annually make the long trips despite sleepless nights.

“Really, I’ve learned that you’re more wrong than right in the business,” he said. “So the trick is to be wrong the least amount of times as you can be.”

Edwards said he does pay attention to skating, shooting and a player’s physical traits, but that he also understands that these are 17- and 18-year-olds he’s watching, so there’s always a chance of catching them on an “off night.”

“For the most part, you decide if a player is a good hockey player, and then you decide what type of player he actually is,” said Edwards. “Is he a power forward? A skill forward? Is he a stay-at-home defenseman or an offensive-defender? That comes with time, seeing a guy and getting to know him better. But the first thing you have to do is figure out if the guy is a good hockey player, and then take it from there.”

It isn’t easy, but Edwards admits he never expected it to be. So is the life of a scout.