“Figuring IT Out” Observations From the Rink:

“I hope they can figure it out.”

You hear that a lot around the rinks, especially amongst scouts. Unfortunately, some players never really figure it out until it’s too late. 

No one is perfect, every player fails from time to time, but I think Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddox hit the nail on the head when talked about failing. 

“You fail. And you don’t want to fail that way again. There’s nothing wrong with failing, unless you keep doing it the same way.”

Far too many young players get hung up on trying to play perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect. Players make mistakes all the time, even the best players in the world make mistakes, it’s part of the game.

It’s when young players don’t realize they have made the mistake or continue to make the same mistake over and over again or have to figure that out the hard way, that’s when things get really complex.

You see “figuring it out” is usually completely dependent upon the player. Sure, coaches play a big role in that, as do all of the player’s support staff, but at the end of the day it’s up to the player. 

Everyone is unique, everyone develops and matures at their own pace, however, I’ve gone on record tons of times saying that I learn more about a player’s character on bad nights than on good ones. 

It’s all about the tendencies and intangibles. It’s not about the mistakes, it’s how they react, learn and grow after making them. 

Character, work ethic and what I like to call “give a shit factor” is always within a player’s control. 

Good game or bad. Those three things should never vary. Those traits have to be non-negotiable if they want to make it to the next level. You see that’s what players really need to figure out the most. 

As we all know the game revolves around speed and skill, but trust me you aren’t going places without work ethic and character. 

Young draft eligible players need to figure out a lot about themselves before they can figure out what type of a player they want to be or could be. Scouts always talk about the “what if’s” or “if they figure it out.”  You could argue that’s part of the analysis, evaluation, but more importantly the “projection” aspect of our job. 

If a player needs to “figure it out” there’s usually something there. If there’s something there, scouts usually see it, project it and report it. 

Nevertheless, there’s a big difference between, “there’s something there” versus “they really have to figure that out” Trust me I have heard it all before from other scouts especially the ones I admire and trust, “oh that’s just coaching Craig”

It might very well be coaching at the next level, but I’ll trust my eyes, instincts and gut when it comes to that stuff, but you know something those mentoring scouts are usually right. 

Everyone develops and matures differently, but there comes a time where players have to just “figure it out.”

So, when do scouts use the aforementioned phrase the most? Well, we use it to describe a lot of players, players with potential in certain areas. 

From those that need to work on their skating.  To those that need to improve their physicality, discipline and hockey sense, but above all their attitude, character and work ethic. If a player falls into a category that includes the last three examples than they are the ones that need to figure it out the most.

A lot can happen in a year or two and we understand that as scouts. That’s why it is so important as a scout never to give up on a player if you see something in them, but when push comes to solve, hopefully the player will be able to figure it out on their own, but often that takes times. In the meantime, that’s why they call it projecting and that’s why scouting isn’t an exact science. 

There’s a massive misconception out there that scouts are against players. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We aren’t against players, we want every player to live up and play to their full potential, whatever that might be. 

Sure, we are critical and analytical that’s our job, that’s what we are paid to do. I think one of my scouting mentors said it best. 

“All scouting is about is giving a kid a chance whether your drafted or signed as a free agent, it’s about giving them an opportunity.”

“It’s the kids that you see something in and that you know they have potential and then they realize that potential. Seeing them have success is the coolest part.” 

I couldn’t agree more. As a scout, I’m not against you. As a scout, I’m there to evaluate, assess and project your skill, character, work ethic and attitude. As a scout, I want to see you have success and reach your full potential. As a scout, I just want you to figure it out, before it’s too late.  

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