Rookie Duties: Forward Progress
For any of you out there who don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, after a few days of skating with the Gems, Matt was offered a contract with the club. While contracts with teams at this level don’t really guarantee a player any long-term stability, it was definitely great to see that the coaching staff recognized the talent that I’d been telling them about for the last few weeks.
Although Matt didn’t dress for his first game under contract, that changed very quickly, and by the end of this weekend he saw a significant jump in playing time. Fortunately Matt also was able to take advantage of the opportunity – over the last three games Matt registered an assist, was even in his +/- rating, and was named one of the stars of the game on Saturday night. The coaching staff seems pleased with how he’s been playing and are expecting him to stay up with the club for the remainder of the season. Like I said, there really aren’t any guarantees, but these are all obviously very good signs.
Besides this good news for our client, this weekend also provided some encouraging signs regarding the development of our hockey division, in general. Throughout the past few months, I’ve been working on establishing some relationships with amateur hockey scouts across North America. Since I’m the only one in my company who handles hockey client recruitin,g it’s impossible for us to evaluate as many players as we’d ultimately like. Seeing as how I can only be so many places, getting to know others who might have access to games that I can’t make it to is a great way to stay current with prospects and their development. In addition, when it comes to promoting clients or advisees, scouts are often the best people to talk with. Especially at the higher levels of professional, college, and junior hockey, coaches don’t have the time to do most of the talent evaluation. In these cases, the scouts are the ones feeding the information to the front office officials making the decisions. If you want to get a player noticed by a club, often you first have to get the scouts interested. As I had mentioned, I’ve spoken with the families of a few younger players from Ontario and with some of them becoming eligible for the Major Junior drafts next year, it’s time to start getting them noticed. Even if they choose to go the NCAA route, college commitments (although being merely verbal) start to develop around the same time.
After emailing a few independent scouting services, I was able to speak with a scout over the phone on Friday. I wanted to find out if they would be sending anyone to Toronto for the Marlies Holiday Classic, which begins next week. Unfortunately, this particular group won’t have anyone in attendance at the tournament; however, just like scouts are often in a position where they can help me, as an agent I can also be an extremely valuable resource for them. After discussing a number of things, we decided that it would be in both our best interests for me to provide their firm with a number of scouting reports of my own from the weekend. This way they’ll be able to cover an event that would otherwise go un-scouted and at the same time, I’ll be able to feed them information about some potential clients that might be flying under the radar of some of those pro, college, and major junior clubs. Now obviously if I’m preparing a scouting report on a particular player or team, I have to be objective in my breakdown. But regardless, this direct access to the scouting service itself could help tip a few clients my way if they’re looking for more exposure.
Also this past Friday I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with another reader of this column who’s progressing with his own career in a way very similar to my own. It’s always extremely rewarding getting to know those who have been following my posts on this site and hear that what I’ve been doing has been helpful.
Besides just speaking about my column and how I got to where I am now, we also discussed my vision for the future of our hockey division. Being the Director of our hockey operations, my responsibilities go much farther than just representing athletes. Although there’s certainly no set timeline, eventually I’d like to bring someone else on board to help me out with some of the scouting and recruiting throughout North America. Seeing as how my partners and I pride ourselves on the personal service and attention we give to all of our athletes, I never want our division to grow to the point where that human connection is compromised. However, if things continue to progress the way they have so far, sooner or later I’m going to need help to ensure that each athlete gets that attention they deserve without taking too much time away from our scouting and recruiting operations. To this point, I’ve already met a handful of people who certainly seem as though they have the drive and determination that I’d be looking for in a future business associate. However, while I’m always open to hearing proposals as to how someone would be a great fit with our company, another team member isn’t something we’re currently pursuing, so for now I plan to just stay in touch with those who have expressed interest and see where that takes us.
Next week I’ll be posting my column during the middle of the Marlies Classic from Toronto. I’m extremely excited to see some of the great people I met over throughout the Bauer Invite and hopefully I’ll have some good reports to give you from the first two days of action. Until then, I want to wish everyone a very merry, safe, and wonderful Christmas. Time to hit the showers.