Over the past few weeks I know I’ve mentioned the fact that my goal is to make this column a truly interactive experience for all of you readers. I encouraged more questions and comments to be asked and made, and I’ve tried to keep my Twitter and Facebook accounts current as far as my day to day activities go. However, I was still feeling as though something was missing. Well, in case any of you aren’t aware of this by now, I tried to fill that void by launching a “Rookie Duties” Fan Page on Facebook last week. By becoming a “fan” of the column, not only will you be able to get current status updates on things I’m working on, I’ve also posted pictures of some of our hockey clients and random mobile pictures (with the possibility of video in the future) I take on my BlackBerry that you’ll have access to. I’m hoping that by actually getting to see the things that I see when I’m working, you’ll feel a little more connected to my situation. In case you’re among those people who aren’t on “the Book,” don’t worry – I’m going to continue to respond to post comments and questions to my column on SAB. One advantage of posting them to the Facebook Fan Page, though, is that they get sent directly to my phone, so you’ll probably get a more timely response. Also by joining, you’ll be able to connect with other aspiring agents that have been following my column. Now that I got that little plug in, let’s get back to the good stuff.
As I mentioned last week, with three Steel home games over the weekend and at least one NHL scout scheduled to be in town, I knew my week was going to lead into a very busy couple of days. Over the past few weeks I put together a list of all the NHL teams I had contacted about Brian…hold that thought.
This past Saturday morning I met up with Brian, Joey, Nicole, and Nicole’s husband Hugo (sorry – inside joke) for breakfast and talked with them a bit about this column. They hadn’t read it before, so I explained how they’re mentioned frequently, but only through the use of fake names to preserve confidentiality. We had a good laugh when I told them all their code names and I asked if it would be alright to release their real ones. After all, Brian already signed with us and my relationship with Joey won’t jeopardize his NCAA status since I’m just a long-time friend who’s only making phone calls to Junior teams for him. So, for any of you who haven’t already figured out Brian’s true identity, Brian is #91, Andrey Kuchin. Joey’s real name is Teddy, Nicole’s real name is Marina, and Hugo’s real name is Gene. There it is! That’s the big one!!! (any Christmas Vacation fans out there?) Alright well now that I don’t have four less aliases to deal with, let’s get back to the hockey stuff.
As I was saying, I had put together a list of NHL clubs that I had contacted regarding Andrey, or “Kuch” as I refer to him at times (hockey players have a real difficulty just calling someone by their first name and while I might be an agent now, I’ll always be a hockey player). Wow, I feel like I’ve got some serious ADD going on right now. ANYWAY, I broke my list of teams down into groups based on whether I’d actually spoken with the person I was trying to contact and what type of feedback I was getting. I still had a few clubs that I hadn’t heard back from, so I spent most of my time last week following up in an effort to get someone on the phone. My real goal was just to find out which clubs would be sending scouts to the Steel games, which scouts would be in attendance, and when they planned on being at the rink. I was able to get a hold of a few guys, and as I had thought, it sounded like there’d be a couple of scouts in town this weekend.
As expected, Friday is when things started getting crazy. The day started off slow with me meeting Teddy and Kuch to get Andrey some sticks. I wasn’t surprised at all when the total cost of the two sticks added up to over $450, but I knew the guys back at my company HQ would be when they got the receipt. Fortunately, they’ve continued to let me know that they’re thrilled with my work thus far, so there weren’t any issues.
After we wrapped things up at Total Hockey, I had to swing by my office for a bit to take care of a few things. I didn’t anticipate being there long but about an hour after I arrived, I got a call from a number I wasn’t familiar with. It turns out it was The Scouting News. I had sent them an email a few weeks before asking if they’d be interested in any of my scouting reports and they wanted to discuss my company, some of the kids I’m advising, and some of the other players I considered to be at the top of the ’95 DOB class. After about five to ten minutes, I was asked if I minded doing a podcast interview with them for their site. I knew this would be another great opportunity to get some players’ and my company’s names out there and demonstrate that I know what I’m talking about, so naturally I accepted. In total, the interview lasted about ten minutes and I feel like it went pretty well. I’m still waiting on my access to the site to show up, so I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to it, but if you’re interested and subscribe to their website, the interview can be found in it’s entirety here.
That evening, the Steel would be hosting the Tri-City Storm, so after a quick workout at the gym, it was time to get showered up and back up to the rink. During the game, I exchanged a few emails with an NHL scout I had been in touch with, but unfortunately he wouldn’t be coming to Chicago until the next weekend. The Steel ended up losing the game 4-1 and Kuch took a high stick off the chops. Not exactly the best night, but there was still plenty of hockey left over the next two days. After the game, I followed Andrey and his entourage back to their home for a late dinner and a few drinks. We discussed some of the things I’d been hearing from scouts and I showed them a few of the scouting reports on Andrey that I had online access to. I knew I had a long day ahead of me Saturday, so around midnight, I hopped in my car and headed back for some sleep.
I woke up Saturday morning around 7:30am to the painfully annoying sound of constant beeps and vibrations emanating from my phone. I ignored them for a bit, but they just kept coming. What could possibly be so important so early on a Saturday??? Finally, I surrendered to the seductive call of the BlackBerry and grabbed my phone to see what the emergency was. Of course…St. Patrick’s Day was being celebrated in Chicago and my friends wanted to know why I wasn’t already with them “observing” the holiday. I explained that I had to work that night, but that I’d try and meet up with them for a couple hours during the afternoon. Let’s just say that my response wasn’t exactly greeted warmly.
After our Saturday morning breakfast that I mentioned earlier, I did in fact head into the city. On my way down, I got a call from Paul Marshall – a good buddy of mine who had just finished up his college career at my alma mater, Ohio University. Paul’s an excellent goaltender who currently holds eight of ten Ohio University goaltending records. He needed to get a hockey resume together and asked if I’d be willing to help out. Of course I agreed and let him know what kind of stuff he needed to get over to me.
I made it down to the city aware of what I’d be walking into, but unsure as to how bad of a train wreck it’d be. I was able to hang out with some friends for a couple hours and enjoy a Guinness or two, but then it was time to head out. “What do you mean you’re leaving?!? Where are you going?!?” Ok, maybe the situation was worse than I thought. “Work…remember??? Andrey’s got a game tonight and I have to head back and get ready.” I took some friendly heckling, but thankfully I was able to get out of there without too much trouble.
Saturday night the Steel would be facing off against Tri-City again. This time, though, I was able to locate a few scouts from one NHL club that were in town. This particular team had sent four guys down, which tends to make the initial approach a little more difficult. When scouts travel in groups, it can be tough to really get a good conversation going. I mean, who should you approach? I never want to upset someone by neglecting them, so I try to engage everyone in the group. At the same time, though, these guys are there to watch the game – you don’t want to start distracting them from play and become a nuisance. I kept my conversation short and to the point, and was able to get some contact information from one of the guys there. They’d only have two scouts at the game on Sunday and they’d be in town the following weekend, so at this point, I just wanted to establish some sort of contact that I could build off of. They didn’t really give me a whole lot to go on as far as Kuch’s draft potential, but as I said, I knew I’d have more opportunities to discuss that stuff later.
That evening I also ran into another NHL scout who’d I spoken with on a couple other occasions. This guy had let me know that his club probably wasn’t going to be looking for a player like Andrey based on the team’s style of play, but I knew he was a really good guy and it never hurts to talk. In this business, it’s all about building relationships and that’s what I’ve remained focused on.
On my drive home from the rink Saturday night, all I was thinking about was relaxing and catching up on some Entourage that’d I’d missed this past season. When I got back I sat down at my computer to quickly go through some of the emails I’d received during the game, including one from Marshall regarding his resume. I decided I’d just start getting things organized with his statistics and other information so that when I’d go to put his resume together, everything would at least be in place for me. Two and a half hours later, his resume was complete. I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker, but over the past couple months I’ve noticed a definite increase in my drive to get things done immediately. For better or for worse, it’s gotten to the point where if I’m not doing work, I start to feel a little anxious. Lately, I haven’t even been able to enjoy Sports Center in the morning while eating breakfast. It’s probably a sign that I need to slow down a bit, but there’s only a few more weeks left in the hockey season (excluding the NHL playoffs) so I figure I’ll just power through it now and try to get that stuff sorted out come next year. I should note that another side effect from my work I’ve been noticing is a constant feeling that my BlackBerry is vibrating. I guess that’s why they’re commonly referred to as “CrackBerries.”
I didn’t expect much scouting activity for Sunday’s game, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. During the game, I was able to speak with scouts from four different NHL clubs – and those were just the guys that I noticed. As I expected, I got some mixed reviews – some guys sounded genuinely interested in speaking with me about Kuch while others seemed like they really didn’t care much. Every once in a while I get to hear those magic words, “he’s on our radar.” Translation (or at least as I like to interpret it) – let’s stay in touch and keep me posted so we can get that radar locked. Regardless of the initial interest level that I sense, though, I always make sure to get that contact information so I’ll be able to follow up down the road.
Well with another week behind me, and more doors opened, I have a lot of leads that need to be followed up this week. This Friday the Steel are set to square off against the Team USA U18’s and it should be a scouting frenzy. That means I have to figure out who will be there and how I can get in touch with them. Once again, I want to remind you to check out the “Rookie Duties” Fan Page on Facebook and let me know what you think. And until next week…it’s time to hit the showers.