Not Always Black and White
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season is right around the corner, the anticipation and excitement is palpable.
From the small print on the bottom of box scores, to being berated from the stands, QMJHL officials feel the brunt of the hockey community while logging hundreds of hours on the roads across the Maritimes and Quebec each season.
Unappreciated and often forgotten, their impact on the game is truly immeasurable.
Some of the games brightest star officials in the NHL got their start in the Q. Hockey dreams are hockey dreams, there not always black and white.
The stress and pressure of the job coupled with the travel and time away from their families and loved ones is often overlooked and classified as “just part of the job.”
From the young up and comer to the seasoned veteran on their last circuit, these officials hate the spotlight and feel compelled to give back to the game through mentorship.
Yes they feel awful when they make mistakes and contrary to belief they only want what’s best for the game.
Enforcing today’s game isn’t an easy task and yes they are under a lot of scrutiny, not only from the fans, coaches, and players, but the league.
They feel the pressure, they understand what’s at stake, it takes a special type of person and character to officiate.
The solitude of the job and the road is shared by one of the strongest close-knit teams/fraternities I’ve ever seen.
When the puck drops on the 2019-2020 QMJHL season just remember there are three teams on the ice every night, you might not agree with everything they call, but understand one thing, it’s not always black and white, and they do get it right 99% of the time.
On the Road Again
The 2019-2020 QMJHL season is here. There’s a new crop of young talented players to watch, evaluate and project. Thousands of hours of travel await.
Through snowstorms and sleet, week after week.
They know all the players, they know all their tendencies, it’s all about consistency. That’s the life as an NHL scout.
The solitude of their empty vehicle is often their only friend.
To some it’s a dream job, not to them. It’s just a way of life, a passion to no end.
An NHL scout’s job really never ends.
Hours before puck drop, they study the rosters and their previous reports, the finer parts of the game are never ignored and is usually what separates players in the end.
As soon as the puck drops and the whistle blows the process begins.
Game after game. Rink after rink. City after city. Kilometer after kilometer, on the road again.
The process to discover the next great young NHL star never ends for Maritime and Quebec based NHL scouts. They are former players and coaches, but first and fore most they are students of the game.
Report after report they know the league inside and out.
Most NHL organizations promote crossover at the mid way report, so that only means on thing, to the airport.
There are no off days for NHL scouts, they are at the mercy of schedule.
From late night arrivals in empty airport terminals, to hundreds of cups of coffee, to fighting for your guy to the bitter end, it’s all for their organization in the end.
A scout’s work never ends; it is a passion, a dream or nightmare for them, but the next time you see a NHL scout, recognize all the work they have put in.
When you question your favorite NHL teams Draft decision, don’t question their scouts vision, they have seen all they need to see, they trust their intuition.
The QMJHL will be home to hundreds of NHL scouts over the season, they come and go, they travel down the road, but if you ever have a chance to talk to one of them, you will soon know just how passionate they are about the process, their job and what players they recommend.
The Game Should Be Enough
The QMJHL has produced some of the games brightest stars recently, but some still don’t know what they are missing. Is the QMJHL a league in transition? No, the game should be enough!
As every organization jockey’s for a championship, the real question should be why are there so many empty seats?
Attendance is vital for the existence of junior hockey; big market teams are trying to stop the decline of it.
The game has certainly changed it’s more entertaining, but why are people still not coming to watch amazing homegrown talent?
Every QMJHL franchise has upped their game both from an in-game experience perspective and on ice product.
Nevertheless, what will it take for Q teams to continue to be successful on the ice and at the box office?
There’s clearly no perfect formula.
Teams are transitioning into a more fan friendly atmosphere or experience to try to generate better revenue at the gate.
Sure that’s great, but the average fan doesn’t really know what they are missing? It’s always been about the game!
The Maritimes and Quebec continue to produce amazing young hockey talent and in the years gone by that was enough, clearly that’s the not case any longer.
From social media, to in-game prizes and give a ways, to music, to theatrics, organizations continue to try to be on the cutting edge all for the sake of attracting the moderate hockey fan that wants the full experience.
The game should be enough, the on ice product should be enough.
The entire league is trying to bend over backwards to draw fans and rightfully so, nonetheless, for the hockey purest out there, they couldn’t give two shits about the music or what’s happening between whistles, they want to watch an entertaining brand of hockey and that’s exactly what they are going to get when they buy a ticket across the QMJHL.
That’s what makes junior hockey so intriguing.
Sure I grew up in the hockey crazed days of the American Hockey League era in the Maritimes, trust me you didn’t need any music or give a ways to get fired up for those games.
I miss those days, the days when the game was always enough!
Get out and support the QMJHL you won’t regret it, I promise!