This week, while in between games at a tournament, and while sitting in in my truck (warming up). I reached for the book, “The Art of Scouting”, by Shane Malloy (2011), which had been sitting in my briefcase for over a month awaiting an opportune time to begin reading it.
I had just been talking with a college coach during the previous game, and we had been discussing a number of points regarding a U-16 player that had been the focus of our mutual attention.
We had also been talking about the ability of being able to predict the future contribution of young players to the game of hockey, and the importance of being able to identify all the important little hints that might shed light on the future successes of a player, both on and off the ice.
The very first words that I read in the introduction of Malloy’s book were;
“It’s easy to go out to a game and pick out the best players. Every fan knows the guy who got the hat trick that night probably is one of the better players in the game. but it’s not easy to do to the game and see the guy on the fourth line who had five shifts, did everything right, played his position, had good read and react, and is a big skinny guy who, once he gets strength, is going to be an above average skater and contribute down the road. it takes time and patience and a lot of practice to fine-tune that art.” Scott Luce, Director of Amateur Scouting, Florida Panthers
The book, then goes on and talks about a number of the key ingredients that scouts look for in players, including “Hockey Sense”.
E.J. McGuire, the Director of NHL Central Scouting, describes a player with good hockey sense as “one who always seems to be around the puck or, better yet, the puck seems to follow him“. In other words, being able to anticipate the movement of the puck and the flow of the game…..
Jeff Gorton, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, with the New York Rangers, explains that Hockey sense isn’t limited to what prospects do, but also shows through in what they don’t do. “Hockey sense involves having an awareness of the game. Does he take a retaliatory slashing penalty” If, for example, he does and it’s the third period with his team trailing by a goal, you would assume the player does not have a good awareness of what it takes to win.”
Craig Button, former NHL General manager, says “Without good hockey sense or awareness, your other skills don’t matter, and that’s why so many players that can skate and have elements of skill do not succeed. It’s not because they don’t have the skill, it’s because they don’t have the (hockey) intelligence.”
On the flip side of that quote, I cannot tell you how often I hear comments from coaches who tell me of the fact that although a player might have unbelievable hockey sense, he does not possess the work ethic, or discipline required to be successful at the next level….., or there are too many other distractions that seem to be of higher priority.
For young hockey players. and their families, life is full of distractions, opportunities and choices, and in paraphrasing the last part of Jeff Gorton’s quote from above, it’s possible that they may not have a good awareness of what it takes to get where they want to be”.
We have the awareness of “what it takes” for a player to get to the next level, and beyond….
We also have the dedication, the network and the program to help make it work.
If you think we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to drop me a line through the neat little pop-up box to the right, or through direct email.