This was written last night by Scott Deady.
First of all, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and seeing as how I’m in Canada, a Happy Boxing Day. Just a few minutes ago, I walked back into my hotel room after another long but productive day in Toronto. The last few days have flown by and I’m starting to think that my original itinerary might have to be amended. With 59 teams at the Bantam Major level alone, it’s impossible for me to see all the hockey I want to in just three days. Even with me eating all my meals at the rink bar and grill, there always seems to be another game I want to catch. I don’t like to base my evaluations on only one game, so once I see some potential from a player, I always want to see him play again. Thus, while I originally planned on staying only through Monday, I’m currently in the process of scouring Priceline.com for a hotel room for tomorrow night. No luck so far, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
This being my first real scouting trip of my young career, I’ve quickly realized how valuable the internet can be when it comes to booking travel. Anyone who’s ever spoke with an agent has probably heard about the stories about how when they first started, they had to spend nights on the road alone in dump motel rooms because $40 a night was all they could afford. Thanks to the power of William Shatner and his price-kicking ways, I was able to book a hotel room at a Marriott Courtyard for that same price. For any of you that might be looking into booking a cost-effective recruiting trip, I definitely recommend you check out Priceline, Orbitz, and the other online booking sites.
When I’m in the rinks for these 12+ hour workdays, watching games isn’t all that I’m doing. These big tournaments are the best opportunity for an agent to network with scouts from the major junior and college clubs. I’ve definitely noticed a huge increase in the number of scouts here compared to the Bauer Invite, and I’ve been doing my best to take advantage of it. You might be wondering how I can decipher which spectators are scouts versus agents, but it’s almost humorous how easily identifiable we make ourselves. Every scout I’ve come across so far has been proudly sporting their official league jacket donned with their team’s logo. In contrast, every agent I’ve run into has been dressed, well, like an agent. To this point I’ve been limiting my contact with the other player reps at the tournament but whenever I’ve noticed a scout in the area, I’ve looked for a good opportunity to strike up a conversation.
Just this morning, I was lucky enough to run into one in my hotel lobby after I finished up an early morning run on the treadmill. At the rink itself, usually it’s just as simple as sitting next to one for a while and watching the same game. Eventually you’re bound to come up with something good to talk about. Now for the most part, major junior and college teams aren’t looking at the Bantam Major players yet since they’re not going to be eligible for the OHL Priority Selection until the Spring of 2011. Nevertheless, I want to build some relationships here, so just getting my name out is a good step in the right direction. In addition, it never hurts to get your players some exposure, even if scouts won’t take the time to watch them now.
In addition to establishing some connections with scouts, I’ve also been spending my time up here meeting with some parents to explain what I and my company can do for a young amateur player. Besides merely educating them on what players can expect as they begin to near eligibility for the major juniors though, I’m also selling myself. Advising a player is about building trust so that when and if he eventually turns pro, he can feel confident knowing that I will be a good agent and person overall. As a result of some of these discussions, it looks like I’ll be advising at least one new player and hopefully there will be a few more to follow in the coming weeks.
Tomorrow and possibly Tuesday will be spent following up on some leads that have developed over the last 48 hours. Moscow Dynamo sent their Midget Minor squad over and I was able to speak with some of the parents and players after their first game. My decision to take three years of Russian in college is definitely paying off. Not only was I the only person at the facility that had the ability to converse with the team, my doing so definitely got me some attention from others who overheard. This naturally struck up a few side conversations which in turn gave me more opportunities to promote myself and my company. Anyway, it turns out that most of the Dynamo players and parents know a few of my Russian friends from back in my playing days. They all seemed very intrigued and excited about the connection and I’m going to continue to make myself very visible with this group. Dynamo plays two games tomorrow and right now they’re both on my schedule.
Besides the Russians though, I’ve remained close with a few Ontario teams, so I’ll be sure to be in attendance at each of their respective contests for the day. I realize that by sticking close with only a handful of clubs after the first two days, I might be missing some talent elsewhere. As I said before though, I can only see so many games in a given day and in my opinion it’s much more efficient giving 100% to five teams than giving 25% to ten (I have no clue where I came up with those numbers but I’m exhausted right now and math is definitely not on the menu).
Well it’s time for me to start updating my stats for tomorrow’s games so this is where I have to let you go. Next week I’ll recap the remainder of my stay in Toronto and discuss where I’m going to go from there. Until then, I hope you all have a terrific and safe New Years…time to hit the showers.