The names kept appearing. The wait and anticipation became agonizing.
Yes even as a scout I was hoping for some names to appear on the screen on Saturday afternoon.
Refresh, refresh maybe I missed them.
You see as the afternoon went on I started to feel a sense of helplessness for these young men.
For the past four years I’ve attended the QMJHL Draft and seeing and hearing the emotion on draft day, when a 15 year old kid and their family finally hear their name called, is truly amazing.
This year was different.
I could hardly wait for the next name to appear, round after round.
I even started looking at organizations that were on the clock, or organizations three or picks in advance.
If I was feeling this anxious could you imagine the player and their families.
For some it’s a dream come true for others draft day is their worst nightmare.
I’ve seen first hand how hard these young men have worked.
I’ve seen their supportive parents in cold rinks all across the Maritimes.
I felt so bad for them all on Day 2 of the QMJHL.
When the draft ended, I quickly reviewed every organizations picks just in case I missed them, I even checked it twice.
As a scout it’s my responsibility to recognize and project talent.
I guess that’s where the helplessness enters the picture.
For some players it might just not be in the cards.
They might not be ready physically or mentally, I get that, that’s part of the game, but for others who have been passed over twice it’s truly heartbreaking for them.
Many of those players born in 2003 in this years case received a plethora of phone calls as soon as the draft ended, which is outstanding, but in many cases they are still on the outside looking in.
I wanted to call them, I wanted to talk to them.
I wanted to listen to them.
I wanted to tell them it’s never too late, that their journey in the game isn’t over, that their dreams could still come true, to never give up, but those are just words that they have probably heard them time and time again.
Some would say that I shouldn’t show any emotional connection or keep my role as a scout strictly professional.
That’s just business, the hockey business.
That’s incredibly hard when you see character kids getting passed over.
I’m not blaming organizations or coaches and I realize the dream ends for some players sooner than some, but that’s hard for me to accept.
A teacher colleague of mine told me today the Radio Canada even wrote an article showcasing players that were drafted and even mentioned the players that didn’t get selected.
To me that’s extremely unacceptable and unprofessional.
I guess it’s just another strike against the player.
Every player has their own path in the game and that path isn’t always linear.
The unpredictable or unconventional path is always the most rewarding when it materializes.
Sure you can look at the famous quote from Moneyball, as a benchmark for players to accept their destiny in the game and it might be true or a brutal reality.
“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t know when that’s gonna be.”
In my opinion every athlete should have the rite to leave the game on their own terms.
If undrafted players were to read this I would just say this.
To me it’s not over, to me it’s never too late. Please don’t give up on your hockey dreams.
Keep pushing, keep embracing grind, I would never want you to look back and regret any decisions you made in a moment of disappointment.
Never give up, get yourself in the best shape of your life and go kick ass at those camps that you have been invited to.
Prove them all wrong, but more importantly prove it to yourself that you belong.
Keep your head up, be proud of your accomplishments in the game and never and I mean never let someone else steal your passion and love for game.
Be disappointed, be devastated, but channel those emotions right now to fuel your fire.
I believe in you, I believe in your potential.
Stay the course and I’ll see you at the next level and you can bet your ass I’ll be writing about it.