This young New York Islanders scout knows his grandfather Henry convinced Bill Torrey to draft Mike Bossy in 1977 and his father Mario maneuver the club toward Pat Lafontaine, Roberto Luongo and Jean-Pierre Dumont!
"He is a bit more reserved than me, but Jay is probably the one with the best judgment among the three of us," says Mario.
Mario Saraceno, 53, was still a teenager when Bossy started out to Long Island.
"My father loved Bossy. Mike played in our region Leisure St. Alphonsus. Then he went to see him every Monday evening with Laval. "
Despite four seasons of over 70 goals in Laval, the Islanders were not convinced that Bossy was the player to take. The Islanders had their sights on Mark Napier 10th.
"They hesitated between Napier, Dwight Foster, and Bossy says Mario. They believed that Mike was not physically strong enough, not strong enough defensively. But my father was very emphatic in saying that it was imperative to take Bossy. Bill Torrey finally replied, "Okay, we're going to run with it! "
Bossy would score 53 goals in his first season, the first of nine consecutive seasons of over 50 goals .
"Unfortunately, my father never got to see Mike lift the Stanley Cup since died the year before they won."
The Islanders then appealed to the young Mario, then aged 20, to replace his father.
"I was still in school physical education at McGill, but I did not hesitate for long. I was working, I had good judgment. "
Mario Saraceno has always worked part-time for the Islanders, but that did not stop him from making master strokes.
The decision of which he is most proud of?
"Probably have drafted a guard if earlier, Roberto Luongo, fourth in 1997. But bitter disappointment when he was traded. Pat Lafontaine was a joyous moment, but anyone would have taken him third in 1983.
"That year, he says, we were convinced that the Minnesota North Stars wanted in the first place. They opted for Brian Lawton. And what was our surprise to see Sylvain Turgeon go to Hartford. We were so excited that Pat was still free to all third team scouts stood at the table forum to applaud! "
The third generation of Saraceno is at work for the Islanders since Garth Snow has hired Jay two years ago, under the paternal warm recommendation.
"I'm still vice-president of sales for a company in printing and marketing, I grow a little, the job is more demanding than 30 years ago. I've mostly professional screening and Jay is responsible for the amateur. Cover junior hockey is more demanding today. Travel is increasing. At the time, we could cover the League in four days. We went to Saint John, Saint-Hyacinthe, Laval, Verdun. Today, there are the Maritimes, Val-d'Or, Rimouski, it must also meet young people, subjecting them to tests, prepare reports, everything has changed. "
Jay Saraceno played a little hockey and he even agreed to the NCAA.
"His judgment remains the best thing the father said. He was always well analyzed games, even when he was a player. The judgment is the key thing is to try to distinguish between good and bad qualities, but to be able to make a projection. It is not infallible. When you hit an average of 300, it is good. "
Jay Saraceno says he discovered his vocation early.
"I've always bathed in hockey because I always accompanied my father in arenas and even different repechage. It is the job I wanted to do when I stopped playing because of injuries.
"You can see the game from a completely different way when you are a recruiter, he says. We must dwell on details that we did not notice before, it is the movements of a player when he returned to the bench, how it behaves in defeat when his team is falling behind when it wins. "
The job he negative impact on family life?
"My 79 year old mother, who is still alive, loved hockey and she accepted my father follow hockey, she knew it was her passion, said Mario. I am married to the same woman for 30 years. She also loves hockey and she understands my passion, even if it is often gone. My son, we'll see! [Laughter] "
The job allows Jay, 23 years old, live a unique situation, the chance to work with his father.
"I appreciate it. My father has always been my mentor. It allows us to discuss several things. And I remain humble in there because I know that hockey is a religion in Quebec. Many of my friends would do this job. "
No worries fellahs...it's funny and ironic that I remembered the family name when I was at the Bell Centre last week, but didn't actually know who Mario and his father actually selected for the Isles...I use to pour over the media guides when I was a kid- picked a few up at local comic book and sports card shows because back in the day it was that Islanders newsletter (now what was that called...) or a drive to Long Island if you wanted anything like that.
Good to see the Islanders have kept some of their traditions with their scouting staff in spite of all the changes up top...it's not clear on Jay's level of play and experience (guessing if I do the detective work he probably only played div 2 or 3?) but it's nice to see anything related to the scouting staff out there.
And ya, no Saracenos, no Bossy, maybe no run of four cups...