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Scouting Combines: useless?

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Old
07-08-2008, 09:36 PM
  #1
fightking
 
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Scouting Combines: useless?

Perhaps too late to be relevant to this year's combine and draft, but I just came across this talk by Malcolm Gladwell, author of bestsellers "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" and thought I'd share with the class.

Looks like his next book is about hiring the right people. He specifically names the NHL scouting combine as a [typical] poor predictor of future performance. It dovetails nicely with all the recent "Moneypuck" and poor scouting talk, but may be thought provoking on its own merits.

Video available here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/vide.../2008/gladwell

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07-09-2008, 11:52 AM
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PecaFan
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A big "duh!" to Mr. Gladwell. Of course the NHL Combine is a poor predictor, because that's not it's purpose. *Scouting* is the measure that attempts to determine future performance.

The combine is simply a measure of physical fitness, a standard recording of physical traits, and can help find potential health problems.

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07-09-2008, 12:00 PM
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Burke's Evil Spirit
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Also, it's where all the interviews take place.

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07-09-2008, 12:10 PM
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19nazzy
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Practice is the only thing that matters.

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07-09-2008, 12:20 PM
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tantalum
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No kidding the combines are a poor predictor.

Pre-game skates are where the important information on a player is gathered.

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07-09-2008, 12:20 PM
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Ajackalit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 19nazzy View Post
Practice is the only thing that matters.
I'm guessing you're talking about the Delorme comment and I'm also guessing you have no idea where the theory comes from.

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07-09-2008, 12:33 PM
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B-rock
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Thanks for that fightking. Gladwell has very interesting theories and he's a great thinker.

This makes me wonder if Nashville chose Colin Wilson over Boedker or Hodgson because of the hype that surrounded him at the combine.

I think that Gillis has read some Gladwell, and recognizes that objective measures like the combine are poor indicators of on ice performance. If you want to judge a player's performance, look at what he does in the game, not outside of it. (That probably also infers that practice and warm-up performance are poor indicators of game performance....Delorme.)

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07-09-2008, 12:37 PM
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Ajackalit
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Thanks for that fightking. Gladwell has very interesting theories and he's a great thinker.

This makes me wonder if Nashville chose Colin Wilson over Boedker or Hodgson because of the hype that surrounded him at the combine.

I think that Gillis has read some Gladwell, and recognizes that objective measures like the combine are poor indicators of on ice performance. If you want to judge a player's performance, look at what he does in the game, not outside of it. (That probably also infers that practice and warm-up performance are poor indicators of game performance....Delorme.)
Again, open question to everyone:

Does anyone have a clue why Delorme made the comment (or where the theory comes from) about learning a lot about a player by the way they practice/warm up???

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07-09-2008, 12:40 PM
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KDizzle
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Originally Posted by tantalum View Post
No kidding the combines are a poor predictor.

Pre-game skates are where the important information on a player is gathered.
no kidding.
if they can score on an empty net going 1/4 speed 9 times out of 10... ladies and gentleman... we have a sniper!!

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Old
07-09-2008, 12:47 PM
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B-rock
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iheartnonis: Delorme made that comment 2/3 years ago referring to the fact that he feels that scouting players in pre-game warm ups is a reliable predictor of a players future NHL success. I can't remember where it was printed.

I don't know why he made the comment other than the fact that he believes it to be true. I think it comes from his own theories about scouting.


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Old
07-09-2008, 01:24 PM
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Ajackalit
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iheartnonis: Delorme made that comment 2/3 years ago referring to the fact that he feels that scouting players in pre-game warm ups is a reliable predictor of a players future NHL success. I can't remember where it was printed.

I don't know why he made the comment other than the fact that he believes it to be true. I think the theory comes from his own theories about scouting.
I know he made the comment and I think I know where it stems from. I'm just curious if anybody else has a clue where he gets the idea, or why he subscribes to the theory that the way a pro athlete prepares is a valuable indicator. I think if people knew they'd be less likely to pass judgement ...

For those that give a ****, the majority of pro scouts, from MLB to the NHL, have a copy of the book "prophet of the sandlots".... a story about Tony Lucadello. Many regard Lucadello as the greatest baseball scout ever, and, FWIW, he was a huge proponent of analyzing the way a player practiced and trained. It wasn't uncommon for him to go scout a player, watch him practice and then actually skip the game.

As for the combine being a waste of time....what a load of absolute BS. The results themselves may not necessarily point to anything useful, but the process itself is critical. Does the end score on the stationary bike point to success at the pro level - no, not likely. How hard a kid fights through the test tells a lot about his character, or in the case of Cherapanov, lack of. Also, simply watching how the kids interact with each other is a very valuable indicator.

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07-09-2008, 02:18 PM
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I tend to believe that the combine isn't a very good indicator of future performance. I wonder if there is a list somewhere that gives the top combine scores from past drafts. It would be interesting to correlate that with NHL success.

I would also argue that there is a difference between scouting baseball and hockey. I think that Lucadello is probably able to gain quite a bit of insight into a players performance watching him in a baseball practice. The same could be said with respect to a hockey player's skills; by watching him practice, a scout is able to identify whether or not the player has above average skill. However, I think the difference between the two is in game situations. There is a very large difference between hockey games and baseball games. Baseball is almost completely static. There is hardly any movement or necessity for anticipating a play. Hockey on the other hand is totally dynamic, and there is more weight given to a player's ability to anticipate, or "think" the game. The argument is often made that Gretzky was not the most skilled hockey player, but that his "hockey sense" is what led him to greatness.


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07-09-2008, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by B-rock View Post
I tend to believe that the combine isn't a very good indicator of future performance. I wonder if there is a list somewhere that gives the top combine scores from past drafts. It would be interesting to correlate that with NHL success.
I think the opportunity for qualitative analysis at the combine makes it an extremely valuable evercise. However, no single measuring stick, viewed on its own, is a useful indicator of future performance. Hell, combine em all and it's still just guess work 99.9% of the time anyway; whether or not an 18 year old kid will have a professional hockey career simply isn't knowable.

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07-09-2008, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-rock View Post
I tend to believe that the combine isn't a very good indicator of future performance. I wonder if there is a list somewhere that gives the top combine scores from past drafts. It would be interesting to correlate that with NHL success.

I would also argue that there is a difference between scouting baseball and hockey. I think that Lucadello is probably able to gain quite a bit of insight into a players performance watching him in a baseball practice. The same could be said with respect to a hockey player's skills; by watching him practice, a scout is able to identify whether or not the player has above average skill. However, I think the difference between the two is in game situations. There is a very large difference between hockey games and baseball games. Baseball is almost completely static. There is hardly any movement or necessity for anticipating a play. Hockey on the other hand is totally dynamic, and there is more weight given to a player's ability to anticipate, or "think" the game. The argument is often made that Gretzky was not the most skilled hockey player, but that his "hockey sense" is what led him to greatness.
For sure it is important to watch a player in game situation to see how they perform under pressure etc. How a player practices and trains, particularly their intensity level, is the best indicator (imo) of a solid work ethic.

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07-09-2008, 05:42 PM
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Dr. Nucksfan
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Lots of you know this quotation but it's pretty good and so worth repeating here (below). I'm SO SO SO very skeptical whenever people talk about how a player does in a combine ... or when they mention "bloodlines".

For what it is worth, I think Hodgson will be better than Wilson, though not immediately.

The quotation: Brett Hull: "I spent a year in the minors because I couldn't do enough sit-ups. Carey Wilson, who was a friend of mine, could do 400 situps. He made the team, I didn't."

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Old
07-11-2008, 12:39 PM
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y2kcanucks
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Personally, I've always been about stats. How do the players stats match up against comparable players. I've been reading through Moneyball, and noticed that in 2001 Paul DePodesta picked players, primarily based on stats and looked for statistical indicators to determine which players should or should not be looked at.

The prime example is Billy Beane. Back in the 80's he was a highly touted prospect. The scouts loved him. Loved his make-up, conditioning, attitude, everything. They all ignored the red flags that were sent when his stats took a huge dive in his final season of high-school ball. Now, this isn't a baseball forum, but I'm sure we all know who the mega stars of baseball are, and most of you probaby don't even know that Billy Beane was a ball player. It just goes to show that there's more to it than simply watching a player play, watching him in practice and workouts.

You don't need to excel at any one aspect to be an effective player. In fact, there are a ton of players who are marginal in every tangible aspect of the game, yet they are successful. A prime example is Wayne Gretzky. He wasn't the fastest, or the most physical. He didn't have the absolute greatest conditioning (not saying he was bad, but he wasn't the player with the best conditioning in the league), didn't have the greatest shot in the league, lousy on breakaways...yet he's one of the greatest players ever to play the game.

A little personal story, several years ago, while they were still in Juniors, I looked at the stats for Brian Gionta, Pierre Dagenais, and Scott Gomez (all 3 were NJD prospects). I predicted that those three players would become NHL stars, and that they were players I would want to acquire. Well, as it turns out Dagenais ended up being a bust; however, 2 out of 3 aint bad.

No system, whether it be scouting, on-ice game plan, or whatever you want, is perfect. Everything has its pros and cons. The only thing we can perfect is how well we execute, and therein lies the rub.

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Old
07-11-2008, 12:54 PM
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I like Gladwell's books but he's wrong a lot too. In this case, he completely attributed Cherepanov's drop from 1st to 18th to his scouting combine results when in fact the uncertainty surrounding whether he'd ever play in North America was a much bigger factor. From this he draws the conclusion that the combine has a big impact on a player's draft ranking when it is nowhere near that significant.

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07-11-2008, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pitseleh View Post
I like Gladwell's books but he's wrong a lot too. In this case, he completely attributed Cherepanov's drop from 1st to 18th to his scouting combine results when in fact the uncertainty surrounding whether he'd ever play in North America was a much bigger factor. From this he draws the conclusion that the combine has a big impact on a player's draft ranking when it is nowhere near that significant.
Agreed...but at the same time, Colin Wilson's stock really rose due to his results at the combine. Wilson, who's likely to be a fixture on Nashville's 2nd line, was drafted ahead of Cody Hodgson who very well could be a first line player. I see a lot of similarities between Hodgson and Joe Sakic.

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