Friday, January 1, 2016

Taking it to the Next Level, Vol. 2: What are Scouts Looking For?

What Are Scouts Looking For?

For installment two, I asked Steve McKichan, owner of FuturePro Goalie School, to give us some idea about what scouts are looking for when they show up at the rink.  As it turns out, scouts do a lot more than just show up at big tournaments and games.  It seems that a lot of the advice listed in my earlier post about tryouts is applicable when it comes to scouts, too.  You never know who may be watching and when.  Read on, Hockey Goalie Parents!

One key component of my job as an NHL goaltending coach is to scout upcoming talent for the entry draft or as a potential free agent signing. Over the half dozen years I have been on the road scouting I have some observations for you that may help you in your quest to one day be the name that is called from the podium at the draft.

  1. First of all you should recognize that you likely wouldn’t recognize when the scouts are actually there. Many imagine the scout wearing a big trench coat and carrying a notepad / folder with top-secret report information. For the most part NHL scouts dress casually and try to fit into the crowd so they don’t have to endure endless chatter from “helpful” fans. Some junior scouts proudly announce their team affiliations by wearing team logos on their jackets. This isn’t the case with big league
  2. I go out of my way to watch potential goalies in warm ups, whether they are playing or not, so be sure that you treat this time accordingly.
  3. I speak to the head coach and or the assistants to get their take on a potential goalie. If your coach isn’t a fan of yours, you will have a problem. You need to understand that, for better or worse, the guy you must impress the most is your coach. I take negative comments from coaches very seriously. They all pump their athletes and in many cases over-hype them, which is expected. However, if they are willing to reveal negatives to a scout, they clearly have issues with the goalie.
  4. Too many goalies today look the same. I call this “cookie-cutter” goaltending. They try to mimic goalie mannerisms while moving around the crease and how they pose themselves in the net. They may be technically solid but they don’t adopt their “look” in the net rather they resemble robots that are slaves to fashion. I can tell which goalie coaches have trained which goalies by the way they look in the net. I’m not talking about ability to stop the puck, rather how they look bouncing around the crease. It clearly isn’t a good way to set yourself apart from the crowd and the best advice in the area is that a scout shouldn’t recognize who your goalie coach is by watching you play. Everyone is different.
  5. Be sure you have given your best at school and have been respectful to everyone around the rink. I place calls to schools so I can speak to teachers about the effort an athlete puts into his studies. I also chat with many people around the rink who likely don’t know why I’m asking questions. For instance, if you have been frequently rude and disrespectful to the Zamboni driver or a volunteer goal judge, I may learn about it and factor it in my character assessment.
  6. I learn more from watching a potential draft in practice than I do in games. Many NHL goalie coaches / scouts will be sure to watch top end guys in practice, if possible.
  7. Avoid sending video and /or unsolicited information to scouts. I get 10 – 12 DVDs a week sent to me that get filed in the garbage because there isn’t enough time in the day to watch them all. Most of these packages are worthless; as they typically don’t reveal the goalie at their true form, rather best case scenarios filled with highlight saves.
  8. Any contact from a parent directly or indirectly to a scout is taken with grain of salt and is almost universally dismissed. There is nothing a parent can say that will help their kids cause.
  9. Don’t pull the chute. I love to see how a kid responds when the game isn’t going his way. After the sixth goal does your body language and approach reveal defeat? Can you keep your cool when it begins to hit the fan? Can you keep your battle and compete level up when all hope is lost? I learn a great deal on a kid with their response to adversity.
  10. Wherever possible I will watch a kid play the next game after a poor outing. I need to see how they respond in “bounce back” situations. So make sure you don’t string two clunkers together.

In a nutshell, it is actually pretty simple to be scouted. Work your tail off everyday in practice and in the classroom, retiring weaknesses from your game. Impress your coach on a day in day out basis in practice and in games

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