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11-08-2012, 12:46 PM
  #1
RyanHPscout
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Excellent Article on scouting NHL Prospects

I Tweeted this article out on Monday. I didn't see a thread on it anywhere here so I thought I’d post it in the prospect thread since I think prospect enthusiasts will love reading it.

The Toronto and Ottawa Sun ran an article last week by Bruce Garrioch who followed Ottawa Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion for one week on the road. Bruce did an incredible job on this article and it's a very true to life view of what it's like to be a scout. I actually read the whole article out loud in the car as myself and HockeyProspect owner/director of scouting Mark Edwards were traveling back from Gatineau to Montreal after a game Sunday evening. It's a long one but definitely worth taking the time to read. This article was a bit of a buzz amongst NHL Scouts rooms across Quebec this past weekend, so I'm sure you guys will love hearing this perspective.

Part 1: http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/11/02/...ospects-part-1

Part 2: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/11/03...spects-part-ii

Near the end of Part 1 they give the actual scouting report written on Erik Karlsson. I think sometimes you see people write or believe that they need to write really confusing scouting reports that focus on unnecessary things to make the job seem a lot more complicated than it is. But as you can see from this report it's a lot more direct and straight to the point than you think. It's very similar to the way in which we write our reports and I think it goes to show that overcomplicating the art of scouting is really not necessary. The good ones are just long because they cover every area so in depth.

At the end of the second part they give the entire trip details. Well, for those who have been following me; Myself and Mark Edwards were just on our first crossover trip to Quebec for this season. Immediately followed by the U18 Four Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, MI. We were talking about how our distance chart would stack up against this one. We figured it would be fairly similar.




So here is the chart of the trip that we just went on and the final days that we are still in the process of completing. Keep in mind this trip is 12 days, and the one in the article is 6 or 7, so naturally our number is going to be higher because there's more days.

Thursday November 1
Sarnia to Oakville: 254KM
Oakville to Peterborough: 171KM
Oshawa Generals @ Peterborough Petes
Peterborough to Montreal: 480KM
Friday November 2
Montreal to Victoriaville: 157KM
Val d'Or Foreurs @ Victoraivlle Tigres
Saturday November 3
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies @ Victoriaville Tigres
Victoriaville to Drummondville: 60 KM
Halifax Mooseheads @ Drummondville Voltigeurs
Drummondville to Montreal: 105 KM
Sunday November 4
Montreal to Gatineau: 202 KM
Val d'Or Foreurs @ Gatineau Olympiques
Gatineau to Montreal: 204 KM
Monday November 5
Montreal to Boisbriand: 38 KM
Subway Super Series in Boisbriand
Boisbriand to Oakville to Ypsilani: 976 KM
Tuesday November 6
Ypsilani to Ann Arbor: 17 KM
Sweden vs. Switzerland & Finland vs. USA
Ann Arbor to Ypsilani: 17 KM
Wednesday November 7
Ypsilani to Ann Arbor: 17 KM
Sweden vs. Finland & Switzerland vs. USA
Ann Arbor to Sarnia: 167 KM
Thursday November 8
Sarnia to Guelph: 218 KM
Subway Super Series in Guelph
Guelph to Sarnia: 219 KM
Friday November 9
Sarnia to Ann Arbor: 179 KM
Switzerland vs. Finland & Sweden vs. USA
Ann Arbor to Ypsilani: 17 KM
Saturday November 10
Ypsilani to Ann Arbor: 17 KM
Bronze Medal Game & Gold Medal Game
Ann Arbor to Sarnia: 167 KM
Sunday November 11
Sudbury Wolves vs. Sarnia Sting
Monday November 12
Subway Super Series in Sarnia

Days: 12
Games: 17
Total Distance: 3,682KM

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11-08-2012, 01:10 PM
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Great post , thanks for sharing.

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11-08-2012, 01:48 PM
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Great article, thanks for posting it! Averaging around 300 km per day of driving, plus always sleeping in hotels must be tough. Still, it would be cool to catch so much hockey for a living. Certainly a better job than being a trucker.

Out of curiosity, what's the general schedule like for a pro scout? Is at a 7 day trip, then 3 days off? A two week trip, then a week off? Just curious on the ratio of travel to down time, I imagine you can't be on the road constantly or you'd burn out.

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11-08-2012, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ponder View Post
Great article, thanks for posting it! Averaging around 300 km per day of driving, plus always sleeping in hotels must be tough. Still, it would be cool to catch so much hockey for a living. Certainly a better job than being a trucker.

Out of curiosity, what's the general schedule like for a pro scout? Is at a 7 day trip, then 3 days off? A two week trip, then a week off? Just curious on the ratio of travel to down time, I imagine you can't be on the road constantly or you'd burn out.
Most of the guys who are working at the NHL level have the ability to fly around a little bit, which makes them a little more flexible. I was talking to the chief scout for an NHL club yesterday who said he spends an average of 15 days of the month away from home, divided up depending on scheduling. It's difficult to catch games every night right now, particularly for pro scouts, as non-NHL schedules tend to be weekend-heavy.

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11-08-2012, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ponder View Post
Great article, thanks for posting it! Averaging around 300 km per day of driving, plus always sleeping in hotels must be tough. Still, it would be cool to catch so much hockey for a living. Certainly a better job than being a trucker.

Out of curiosity, what's the general schedule like for a pro scout? Is at a 7 day trip, then 3 days off? A two week trip, then a week off? Just curious on the ratio of travel to down time, I imagine you can't be on the road constantly or you'd burn out.
It is always nice after a trip to sleep in your own bed. Eating out all the time I find is tougher. You'd think it would be great, and it was at first, but after a while it gets to be too much and you'd much rather a nice home cooked meal over another TGI Fridays.

For an NHL scout the schedule differs based on the time of year. If there's a tournament, they could be away from home and at the rink for long stretches of time. On a regular schedule from what I understand with those I have talked to, usually 6 to 7 days a week they're at a game and sometimes they'll go long stretches of consecutive days in their own area. For OHL scouts Thursday-Sunday is a regular schedule. Sometimes theres games Monday-Wednesday and even when there isn't there's stuff like OJHL and other leagues that can sometimes be useful to watch. Ones in SW Ontario can also utilize the USHL fairly easily. They also cross over to different leagues later on in the season so they will spend time in a different area of the country or continent. The biggest relief is when they can go to games close to where they're living. It becomes more like working a 4-5 hour shift rather than a couple hours driving, at the game, then a couple hours home. It's very physically demanding.

For an Independent like myself, I live in Sarnia, so I look at Sarnia/London's schedule and try to base my travels around that. After that I'm usually looking at the US Development program, Muskegon, Kitchener, Guelph, and you get the point. Tournaments and cross overs for us are similar to what the NHL scouts go through. But our schedule as a whole is a little less demanding. Which is pretty amazing, cause our schedule is pretty intense sometimes and NHL guys certainly go through more than we do.

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11-09-2012, 11:55 AM
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Thanks for posting!

I've always had an interest in scouting - one that hasn't gone past reading books on the subject and doing my own brand of amateur scouting from my couch or computer chair, mind you, but I've always had a lot of respect for the profession.

With the lockout I've been watching more CHL games than ever. One thing I've always struggled with when watching the games and doing my own analysis on the 2013 guys, is how do you figure out who to watch? What I mean is, a team might have 1 or 2 first round projected guys that you're really focusing on...but if you focus only on them, you could miss a good performance from a guy getting little ice time who might make a nice late-round pick. Do you allow for guys to surprise you and then go back and make a point to focus on them more next time? Or do you try to watch the game as a whole without zeroing in on anyone specific and whoever impresses you, impresses you?

I'm not really asking anyone in particular but anyone who does any scouting is free to chime in with their take...

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11-09-2012, 12:04 PM
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For me, I usually have a short list in advance of who I want to see, for every game at every level. Going into a game and trying to keep track of 17 players (or whatever) is a waste of time. You won't get anything meaningful out of it. If someone else should jump out at you, that's fine, but I'm usually pretty tight to my list - even if it involves a little homework beforehand.

For the OP, I'm excited to read this article when I have a second. Thanks for posting.

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11-09-2012, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hototogisu View Post
round projected guys that you're really focusing on...but if you focus only on them, you could miss a good performance from a guy getting little ice time who might make a nice late-round pick. Do you allow for guys to surprise you and then go back and make a point to focus on them more next time? Or do you try to watch the game as a whole without zeroing in on anyone specific and whoever impresses you, impresses you?
When I was scouting in the USHL(for a draft magazine, mind you...), I went to the game with a list of 4-5 guys I was going to look to focus on. Now, the USHL isn't dripping with talent, but I usually had a decent sample of kids to pick from at every game and being based in Fargo that season, they had a number of possible kids who were on a lot of boards.

The first half/two-thirds of the first period, I would let the game unfold as a whole. Only making notes on "my guys" if they scored or did something "out of the ordinary". No real deep looks into the analytics of physical/mental skills for this half of the period. I'd be looking for a guy to add to my "list" for the night. For the second half/last bit of the first, I would focus on the bubble guys of the night for the rest of the period on their shifts. To see if they are worthy of a report. On a number of nights, I wouldn't have bubble guys show up in the reports I sent in, but I'd say 25% of the time, there would be.

(this is where it gets more loose)

Second period, I spend more time focusing on the physical attributes of the players on the list. Skating style, shooting ability, passing ability. One-by-one, on each shift. Skating with the puck, skating away from the puck, all that. It's more of an isolated approach. I catch myself watching the player over the action in kind of a 75:25 ratio on the shift. I mean, you can't isolate the player entirely because being in the play also plays a part.

Third period, I focus more on the mental game because the score becomes more important in terms of how the players play. Positioning, drive, discipline, vision are more my focus. Of course, coaching comes into consideration so there is a lot of "well, was he told to do that?" but when it becomes a trend, you can usually figure it's possibly(probably) on the player.

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11-09-2012, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hototogisu View Post
Thanks for posting!

I've always had an interest in scouting - one that hasn't gone past reading books on the subject and doing my own brand of amateur scouting from my couch or computer chair, mind you, but I've always had a lot of respect for the profession.

With the lockout I've been watching more CHL games than ever. One thing I've always struggled with when watching the games and doing my own analysis on the 2013 guys, is how do you figure out who to watch? What I mean is, a team might have 1 or 2 first round projected guys that you're really focusing on...but if you focus only on them, you could miss a good performance from a guy getting little ice time who might make a nice late-round pick. Do you allow for guys to surprise you and then go back and make a point to focus on them more next time? Or do you try to watch the game as a whole without zeroing in on anyone specific and whoever impresses you, impresses you?

I'm not really asking anyone in particular but anyone who does any scouting is free to chime in with their take...
I would think they would pin point certain players and watch them closely while being aware of other draft eligable players in the game.
I would think its much easier to view players live opposed to TV

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11-09-2012, 01:34 PM
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I would think its much easier to view players live opposed to TV
I don't feel you can get close to a good enough read on a player from TV vs. live. I don't think it's remotely close either, to be honest.

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11-09-2012, 01:46 PM
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I don't feel you can get close to a good enough read on a player from TV vs. live. I don't think it's remotely close either, to be honest.
Agreed, tenfold.

This is one of the reasons I gave up my position with who I was working for. I felt a bit of pressure to produce more content in terms of TV/web viewing and I really didn't like the idea. I mean, scouting is all about analyzing the game with your eyes...and when viewing TV/web, you are at the mercy of the cameraman. Who, if you are lucky, can routinely follow the play. Scouting away from the play is a huge aspect of scouting, IMO.

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11-09-2012, 01:47 PM
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I don't feel you can get close to a good enough read on a player from TV vs. live. I don't think it's remotely close either, to be honest.
Yes, especially with the quality of Junior hockey feeds/broadcasts. Scouting is done by going to the arena and actually watching a player very closely, so many things go unnoticed when watching on TV.

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11-09-2012, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by DynamoAO View Post
When I was scouting in the USHL(for a draft magazine, mind you...), I went to the game with a list of 4-5 guys I was going to look to focus on. Now, the USHL isn't dripping with talent, but I usually had a decent sample of kids to pick from at every game and being based in Fargo that season, they had a number of possible kids who were on a lot of boards.

[...]
Good read, thanks for the input!

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I don't feel you can get close to a good enough read on a player from TV vs. live. I don't think it's remotely close either, to be honest.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DynamoAO View Post
Agreed, tenfold.

This is one of the reasons I gave up my position with who I was working for. I felt a bit of pressure to produce more content in terms of TV/web viewing and I really didn't like the idea. I mean, scouting is all about analyzing the game with your eyes...and when viewing TV/web, you are at the mercy of the cameraman. Who, if you are lucky, can routinely follow the play. Scouting away from the play is a huge aspect of scouting, IMO.
Agree 100% with you guys, especially with being at the mercy of the cameraman. The most frustrating thing about trying to watch guys on TV/webcast/whatever is how much time you waste just trying to figure out if your guy is on the ice or not.

On the other hand, instant replay is a bonus.

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11-09-2012, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hototogisu View Post
Good read, thanks for the input!





Agree 100% with you guys, especially with being at the mercy of the cameraman. The most frustrating thing about trying to watch guys on TV/webcast/whatever is how much time you waste just trying to figure out if your guy is on the ice or not.

On the other hand, instant replay is a bonus.
See, this suggests to me that "video scouting" would, among other things, involve video recording of the entire ice (potentially with multiple cameramen), rather than hoping the single cameraman is focusing on your guy. That way you get ALL the data available to a live guy and also get the benefit of detailed breakdowns via instant replay.

Cut down on travel costs, too. All you need to do is send (or locate) competent cameramen. Your hockey experts could stay at home.

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11-09-2012, 03:28 PM
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See, this suggests to me that "video scouting" would, among other things, involve video recording of the entire ice (potentially with multiple cameramen), rather than hoping the single cameraman is focusing on your guy. That way you get ALL the data available to a live guy and also get the benefit of detailed breakdowns via instant replay.

Cut down on travel costs, too. All you need to do is send (or locate) competent cameramen. Your hockey experts could stay at home.
That would certainly be an improvement on trying to scout from TV cameras or jumbotron feeds like those of us amateurs are forced to do. I don't exactly know the depths of just what "video scouting" entails but I can't imagine it's a bunch of guys watching the same feeds I'm seeing.

I've especially noticed the WHL feeds like to get in tight as hell to the puck carrier so you have no idea who anyone else on the ice is and where they are. Ah well...

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11-09-2012, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hototogisu View Post
Thanks for posting!

I've always had an interest in scouting - one that hasn't gone past reading books on the subject and doing my own brand of amateur scouting from my couch or computer chair, mind you, but I've always had a lot of respect for the profession.

With the lockout I've been watching more CHL games than ever. One thing I've always struggled with when watching the games and doing my own analysis on the 2013 guys, is how do you figure out who to watch? What I mean is, a team might have 1 or 2 first round projected guys that you're really focusing on...but if you focus only on them, you could miss a good performance from a guy getting little ice time who might make a nice late-round pick. Do you allow for guys to surprise you and then go back and make a point to focus on them more next time? Or do you try to watch the game as a whole without zeroing in on anyone specific and whoever impresses you, impresses you?

I'm not really asking anyone in particular but anyone who does any scouting is free to chime in with their take...
I usually let the first period allow me to notice anyone that surprises me.

During the first intermission, I read over the players that impressed me, and with age and size factored in, as well as pre-game preparation, I narrow my list to around 4 players for the rest of the game.

I left the last half of the 3rd period to have players impress me once again to see if I have peaked interest to visit the team again.

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11-09-2012, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Viqsi View Post
See, this suggests to me that "video scouting" would, among other things, involve video recording of the entire ice (potentially with multiple cameramen), rather than hoping the single cameraman is focusing on your guy. That way you get ALL the data available to a live guy and also get the benefit of detailed breakdowns via instant replay.

Cut down on travel costs, too. All you need to do is send (or locate) competent cameramen. Your hockey experts could stay at home.
To me, this actually sounds MORE costly.

You would NEED multiple cameramen, especially if scouting a goalie, or both a defenseman and forward, because they'll be on different places on the ice.

So that means, around three cameramen a game (plus paying scouts at home), as opposed to one-two scouts.

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11-09-2012, 05:35 PM
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To me, this actually sounds MORE costly.

You would NEED multiple cameramen, especially if scouting a goalie, or both a defenseman and forward, because they'll be on different places on the ice.

So that means, around three cameramen a game (plus paying scouts at home), as opposed to one-two scouts.
D'oh. Good point. In that case, though, it'd still enable you to be more comprehensive in your analysis.

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11-09-2012, 05:49 PM
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What I would like to know is what are you looking when you look to a player. How does it works?

Are they separating it in multiples aspect? ie:

Skating
Shooting
Deking
Physicality etc?

I would love to try scouting some QHJML for fun but I need some guidance :S

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11-09-2012, 05:55 PM
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What I would like to know is what are you looking when you look to a player. How does it works?

Are they separating it in multiples aspect? ie:

Skating(Mechanics, Speed, Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Edges/Transition, Backwards(if D))
Shooting(Velocity, Accuracy, Release)
Deking(Stick Handling at Full speed and in traffic)
Passing
Vision/Sense
Positioning
Discipline/Aggression
Work Ethic
Leadership
Physicality


All applicable to every skater.

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11-09-2012, 06:51 PM
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Interesting to read at the bottom Karlsson's scouting report that they thought his skating was good, but not great, because thats almost surely his best trait. Although they do mention it should get better, so I guess that obviously says something.

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11-09-2012, 08:53 PM
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I think you'd still have scouts going to games though.

NFL gets tape to the entire games, but they still send scouts regardless.

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11-09-2012, 09:03 PM
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Who pays for gas and hotel?

If I remember correctly, team pays for hotel and scout pays for food. I have no idea about gas.

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11-09-2012, 09:32 PM
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Here's a good article on the Sabres scouting process from The Hockey News. This is pretty similar to what most teams that employ video do, using it purely as a supplement to live eyes.

There are services like Rinknet that hire freelance videographers to provide iso footage, and then provide that footage to teams.

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Paradigm Shift
By Adam Proteau

When word leaked nearly 10 years ago the Buffalo Sabres were employing videotape to help scout players, the hockey world erupted in a sea of leers and sneers. The idea that a camera lens could take the place of experienced hockey-watching eyeballs was anathema to the scouting community and many in the media who lambasted ownership and management for the move.

However, as is the case any time a deep tradition is challenged by change inside or outside professional sports, the hatred of Buffalo’s choice to incorporate video scouting into their organization arose from a place of distrust and misunderstanding. And considering the Sabres have produced the last three American League rookies of the year – Nathan Gerbe in 2008-09, Tyler Ennis in 09-10, and Luke Adam last season – as well as numerous youngsters on the NHL roster, including 2010 Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers, even the biggest cynic has to admit the franchise is doing something right.

One of the biggest myths about Buffalo’s video scouting was that, under former owner Thomas Golisano, they jettisoned their most experienced talent-watchers and instead were using video as the sole method to judge a prospect’s worth. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Sabres director of scouting Kevin Devine. “When three of our main guys left, it was painted by a reporter as us having gutted the organization and going strictly to video scouting,” he said of veteran scouts Jim Benning, Don Luce, and Terry Martin, all of whom departed within a couple years of Golisano purchasing the team in 2003. “But those guys just got better opportunities. And I can’t remember if we’ve ever drafted anybody totally on video. One of our scouts always had a chance to see a player we were interested in We’d see that player two or three times at least.”

That said, there is no getting around the reason GM Darcy Regier came up with the video angle – and not just because Golisano had entered the ownership picture. They were experimenting with video before Golisano came into the picture and bought the franchise out of bankruptcy.

But although Golisano was an owner who spent well above the salary cap minimum, his budget for the amateur side was not nearly so big, forcing management to expand the process by a significant degree. “Desperation is the mother of invention,” Regier said. “If you don’t have the desperation, you won’t have the innovation. If you have the resources and everyone’s doing something a certain way, you have no reason to change.

“In our case, it was an owner essentially saying to us, ‘Can you get this done with these resources?’ and if myself and other wanted to keep their jobs, the answer to that question was ‘Yes, we can get it done.’”

The early days of the Sabres’ video scouting process were clunky, inconvenient, and clouded by doubt. Today, the Sabres have video uploaded to computer servers, or make them available on DVDs. But in the early 2000s, they were dealing with low-quality VHS tapes that had to travel hundreds of miles back to Buffalo.

Just as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane faced an uproar from his long-time scouts when he went the Moneyball route, Regier had to persuade his development staff to be open to a new way of doing business. And a few of them weren’t easily persuaded. “Some people didn’t believe in it,” Regier said. “Some people left because of it. Whenever you start a process of what I would call drastic change, you have to expect to be met with resistance. There was a lot of ‘This is stupid,’ or ‘This won’t work.’ And so the first step was a credit to the people who did try it with an open mind.”

There were and are valid concerns about the video process in identifying a prospect worthy of a team’s time and financial investment. For instance, as the camera follows the puck, it can’t simultaneously capture the effort a player behind the play puts into getting back into the thick of things. It also can’t focus on a player’s interactions with his coach and/or teammates on the bench.

But Regier saw those blind spots early on and moved quickly to address them. Although the Sabres would not answer questions about the specifics of their scouting system, they did say the purpose of their scouts’ in person visits was to look at a prospect’s intangibles. They could use video to augment their appreciation of a player in a way the budget simply no longer allowed.

Regier realized the pros of video outweighed its cons. He knew you could only watch junior and college players for 25 weeks of each year, maybe 27 if they went on a good playoff run. He knew scouts’ memories and notebooks were anything but objective and could warp and distort over time, but games on video could be poured over and returned to with no possibility of subjective misinterpretation.

So when fortune smiled on the Sabres last winter and Golisano sold the team to rabid hockey fan and billionaire Terry Pegula, Regier didn’t stop doing what he’d been doing for nearly a decade. Yes, Pegula immediately made it clear the hockey development side of business would receive a much bigger budget, but the franchise still utilizes video. OK, not quite to the same degree: The amateur scouting staff was at skeleton levels by the end of the Golisano Era, yet before Pegula’s first anniversary of finalizing his purchase of the team, the amateur scout total had nearly doubled from 9 to 17.

In fact, in many ways, now that the Sabres are back to having a full complement of amateur scouts – make that “more than full,” as they currently employ as many amateur scouts as any other team in the league – the rest of the NHL has been catching up to them in the video scouting department. Now, there is no more scorn or ridicule directed at Buffalo’s way for taking advantage of technological advances before all the other teams did. Every team employs video in the scouting process to some degree.

Without a doubt, the process of losing good hockey men such as Luce, Martin, and Benning was not an ideal one for Regier and the organization. But just like the video process, the world isn’t perfect and not all the league’s GMs have the same resources with which to work. And although these days Regier has stopped being one of the league’s “have not” GMs, there is still a challenge for him that comes with video scouting. Only now it’s not at all about using video to make the most of a finite development budget.

Now it’s about using a virtually limitless development budget to make the most of ever-advancing technology. “We continue to be a work in progress,” Regier said of the change from a budget-conscious owner to one for whom money is no object. “It’s just a different type of progress that revolves around taking something we felt we were beginning to understand with fewer resources. Now you have more resources, so you want to turn that into a greater advantage.”
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11-10-2012, 01:09 PM
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Interesting to compare how the Sens staff rank players in comparison the NHL Central Scouting's Checklist.

http://centralscouting.nhl.com/link3/cs/content.nsf/0/C2B236BDEAF9A956852575D00063D719/$FILE/NHL%20Central%20Scouting%20-%20Forward%20Checklist.pdf

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