What would you say? What would you say if someone asked you to talk to young aspiring hockey players? What would you emphasize? What direction would you take? Where would you even start?
Do my experiences in the game even matter anymore? How would you connect with these players on their level?
Last year during the Monctonian Challenge a long-time friend asked me to talk to his Major Bantam team. I didn’t realize the impact that would have on me.
This is what I wrote on Sunday evening after the tournament was finished.
On Friday night I had the opportunity to speak to a Major Bantam team. I thought it would a quick 10 to 15-minute meeting with the team after their game in the dressing room. I didn’t realize my long-time friend and the coach of the team had invited the parents as well. As I stood there talking about the scouting process and what I’m looking for when I go to the rink, I couldn’t help to think about my journey in the game and all the people that made that possible. You see I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to talk to people about my journey, my philosophy and perspective of the game.
I feel so fortunate to scout, write, and broadcast the game. It may have been the three hours of sleep I got the night before, but right at the end of my talk I thanked them for the opportunity to speak and told them it was an honour, I couldn’t say another word, I would have broken down.
You may wonder why I’m telling you this little personal story. In my opinion the game of hockey is way more than wins and losses. It’s way more than draft rankings and identifying the best players with pro aspirations or targeting a kid that you believe could make it to the show.
It’s more than standing up for your player to ensure they have the best chances of getting drafted or setting up the best team systems or shortening your bench in the 2nd period to get the win. One of the last things I told the group of players and their parents is that the game will take you where you want to go. We all share hockey dreams, we all share a love for the game.
The pivot point of my message to these young aspiring players was to embrace the journey, embrace the grind and work on the intangibles, play to your identity and never forget the value of hard work. We all have a job to do, we all have great intentions to fulfill our role within the game, but at the end of the day no one is bigger than the game itself. I would love to think the future of the game is in great hands, but is it?
Some aspects of the game have changed, some aspects will never change. We all have our place in the game. We all have hockey dreams and aspirations. We all share the love and passion for the game. We all have unique journeys within the game, that’s what makes the game so special.We all have a place in the game, and when the focus remains on growth and development everyone wins, but most importantly the game wins and that’s what matters most.
Obviously, a lot has happened since I published that last November.
My role in the game slightly evolved in late December when I was approached by the QMJHL to begin writing articles on QMJHL and NHL Draft Eligible Prospects.
It was a dream come true. I could write about the players I was scouting and watching in the Q. I could write and express my opinion on players, but at that point, I became very hesitant.
What if I was wrong?
What if my scouting reports and perspectives were way off?
Every article or ranking that I submitted I made a concerted effort to reach out to as many scouting colleagues as I could with regards to the QMJHL Draft Prospects while I used every resource possible from an NHL Draft perspective.
Was I hesitant or unsure?
Why did I find myself reaching out to all these people?
You see we all want reassurance that our perspectives on the game and in this case draft eligible prospects are accurate, but there comes a time where you have to rely on your instincts, your own idenity and experience in the game. You have to trust yourself. You have to trust your experiences, but more importantly you have to continue to grow and learn.
Asking the right questions at the right times, sharing and being open to share and listening to as many opinions and perspectives as I could strengthened the final product, but more importantly I gained more knowledge and experience with regards to the game and at the end of the day that’s incredibly important.
Recently a Major U18 organization reached out asking me if I would be interested in being a guest speaker as part of their virtual training camp line up.
I don’t think I could have typed Y-E-S any quicker. You see it’s an honour to talk about my journey in the game. Talking about my path honours all those people that helped me in the game.
From observations from the rink, to interviews, to neat behind the scenes stories, to in front of the camera and analyzing the game, to what I look for in a player during the scouting process, the main objective in any presentation has to be relatability.
How can my experiences in the game relate to and potentially help draft eligible players?
I think the foundation of my presentation this time around will focus on asking the players and coaching staff what they value in the game.
Where do these young aspiring players and coaches see themselves in the game and what does the game mean to them?
What’s their end goal? How are they going to attain it? What will it take to get to the next level? Are they willing to do what it takes to get there?
How important is it to be yourself? How important is it trust your abilities and play to your identity? What would you say to young aspiring hockey players?
That’s easy, anything is possible when you are willing to embrace the journey, embrace the grind and work on the intangibles. That’s how you grow, learn and develop as a player and person.