Jets scouts an issue.
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02-19-2013, 10:29 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Here is a good read about scouting players. A mention about Pro scouting.
His word is gold -- scout's honour
Bruce Southern collects 'information' for the Moose, and he's very good at it
By: Randy Turner
Posted: 05/30/2009 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
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Guy walks into a hockey rink looking for information on the local team's centreman.
Word on the street is the kid likes to party. But the coach says the player is flying right. A regular choirboy.
So the guy finds a lady wearing a team jacket. Thinks: Billet. And he's right.
Turns out, she's actually the billet of the player in question.
So the guy asks, "What's he like?"
The lady replies: "He's a complete @#$#$. All he does is tell me to feed him and take care of his bed. He sneaks out till one, two in the morning all the time."
The guy says, "But the coach is telling people (the player) has cleaned up his act."
The billet lady says. "He's full of @#$#$#@."
The guy gets up, politely, and says, "Thank you. That's all I need to know."
Meet Bruce Southern: Professional hockey scout.
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"I can get that anywhere I go," Southern is saying now. "I've got connections in Springfield, in the booster club. I'll talk to anybody. I'm an information collector. That's what I do."
Southern is the kind of guy who loves to listen. He loves to talk, too.
Maybe that's because the Moose director of player development spends so much time alone, on the road, bird dogging in college arenas, East Coast Hockey League outposts and the AHL. Southern has a file on every player in three leagues. He's got hundreds of folders, reports on each game he's scouted since rejoining the club a few years back.
You see, the Moose might be on the cusp of their first championship, but if the face of the team is veteran Mike Keane or head coach Scott Arniel or GM Craig Heisinger, then Southern is the feet.
You don't see him. He's largely anonymous. So you forget that Southern was once an assistant coach with the Jets back in the day. You forget he coached the Winnipeg Warriors, the junior team that originally signed Keane by accident. Or that Southern, a hockey fixture in Manitoba the last four decades, has found players over the years for the Red Wings, the Sharks, the Jets, the Wild and the Senators.
But without Southern and others like him beating the hockey bushes, the Moose wouldn't have such a sterling record when it comes to finding the Alex Burrows, the Jason Jaffrays and the Guillaume Desbiens of the world, just to name a few.
"The biggest thing I'm proud of is we haven't brought in too many players who have failed," Southern said. "That's a lot to do with me trying to recognize what the coach wants, what kind of guy will fit in. Because if we bring a guy in here and pay him a lot of money and he fails because I didn't do my homework...
"I'm not going to sit here and say I found this guy and I found that guy. I'm not into that," he added. "If I say that, then it gives somebody the right to say, 'Yeah, but you recommended this guy and he was horse@#$@#.' "
Does Southern travel much? Well, he's got a million Marriott points.
Where does that take you?
"Anywhere you want to go," Southern replied. "But my wife (Susan) doesn't like to fly."
Turns out, Southern does a lot of driving, too. All through the East Coast. Then off to Vegas to cruise the ECHL's western wing. Trips are usually seven-to-10 days. Southern will put about 1,400 kilometres on a rental car. That works out to about 15-20 games a month.
It's all by design, and Heisinger's meticulous organizational skills. The GM scouts, too, along with part-time scouts spread across the country who file biweekly reports. Jim Norgate covers the OHL and NCAA games out east. Steve Dowhy looks after the WHL. Bill LaForge scouts the WHL and Canada West university hockey. Bruce Okrainec looks after the OHL, the International League and some ECHL games. Doug Sheppard scours the QMJHL and Canadian colleges on the east coast.
So it's not as though the Moose -- who, for example, had over 50 players wear the uniform last year due to a string of injuries and call-ups to Vancouver -- are left scrambling. The dog hasn't ate the homework.
Take late season call-up Matt Pope. The kid comes in and produces right away. In the playoffs, to boot.
Well, Pope was on the Moose's radar all the way back to October, when he was toiling in Bakersfield in the ECHL.
"First trip this year," Southern said. "I told Zinger, 'We should keep an eye on him.' "
So they did. And when Pope's name finally made it to the top of the team's many lists -- all broken down in categories such as "tough guy," "energy guy," "scorer," etc. -- the call went out. And Pope didn't disappoint.
"The players are the lifeline of your team and if you don't have that, you have nothing," Heisinger reasoned. "We would not have had the success that we've had as an organization without guys like Bruce and those other guys. It would just be impossible for one or two guys to see all the players. And even if you did, your opinions on guys would be too one-dimensional.
"As much as we count on Vancouver draft picks... it's important that we augment those players with our guys."
Indeed, former Moose Alex Burrows had a breakout year with the Canucks last season. Feisty forward Rick Rypien just signed a contract extension in Vancouver. The former was found by the Moose in the ECHL. That latter was undrafted, right out of the Dub.
It doesn't really matter who gets the credit for "finding them." The Moose organization found them. Sometimes, it's luck. Often, it's years of experience at work. Always, it's plenty of legwork.
And every once in a while it happens purely by accident.
"This was an absolute true story," Southern begins, of a minor hockey game played in Winnipeg over two decades ago.
Southern was head coach of the Winnipeg Warriors at the time. He came to scout a game, but it was the wrong two teams. Southern stayed anyway.
Out came this hard-nosed speedster, a smaller guy, wearing a Rangers jersey. Man, the kid was energetic, Southern recalled. Tough.
Immediately after the game, Southern put the player on the Warriors protected list.
His name was Mike Keane.
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These days, Southern has been tasked to pre-scout the Hershey Bears, the only team standing between the Moose and the franchise's first Calder Cup. It's as close as Southern has been to a championship, outside of minor hockey back in the day.
"It's special for me because you have to remember I grew up here," he said. "I coached the Warriors, I was with the Moose. I was with the Jets. It makes it a lot more special."
Southern's job: To put a book together on the Bears; the team's tendencies, players strengths and weaknesses, what different systems Hershey employs.
Every little scrap of information Southern can dredge up. And like Southern said, he'll talk to anybody.
He's an information collector, remember?
True story. A guy from Winnipeg goes to a playoff game last week in Providence to see the Bruins play the Bears.
The fan in front of him is wearing a Cam Neely Bruins jersey.
The guy from Winnipeg says, "You a Cam Neely fan?"
The two men get to talking. The fan says, "Actually, I'm here because my buddy's on the Hershey team."
The Winnipeg guy smiles and says, "Oh, really. What type of guy is he, anyway?"
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2009 D6
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