Perception is a Game Changer in the Hockey World.
Perception: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
Over the Christmas Break we travelled up to my in-laws to spend some precious family time.
The Family Tournament is somewhat of an amazing tradition in that community.
The rink in so many small rural areas across this province fulfills so many different roles in connecting people and their beloved communities.
As soon as we arrived there was a hockey game to watch or in my case stand behind the bench.
So there I am standing behind the bench when my phone rang.
I couldn’t hear at the time so I noticed the message between periods.
It was a voice mail from the Director of Communications and Media Relations for the QMJHL, Maxime Blouin.
The message said to call him back. In that moment I was petrified that I had written something that a QMJHL team or a certain person didn’t like or thought was offside.
I had been writing a lot of speculation articles surrounding the QMJHL trade period.
I thought I was going to be in deep shit.
For the next hour I didn’t know what to think until the text message came through.
“Hey Craig, I have a project for you, I’ll email you tomorrow.”
I was so relieved and excited.
The project was writing four articles a month showcasing QMJHL NHL Prospects and Future QMJHL Prospects or those players that I was scouting.
I was simply blown away.
It was a dream come true.
For the next three months I was fully immersed in both spectrums of my role in the game.
World’s were about to collide like they briefly did a year earlier.
Could I get past it this time around?
How would I deal with the perception?
I have tried to stay in my separate lanes for the past three or four years, until I wrote the article that crossed that line.
I thought as soon as I crossed it I could never go back.
I would lose my credibility as a scout, but I just had to share this kids story.
How would it be perceived?
That was the major hurdle that had to be addressed.
This is where it all started, a lot has happened since I wrote this in November 2018 and January 2019.
Here’s the article from November 2018.
Here’s the follow up article from January 2019.
‘Observations from the Rink’ has certainly been a game changer for me personally.
Let me start by saying over the past two and half seasons I have had the pleasure of watching some amazing hockey teams and young up and coming stars.
Honestly, it’s been an amazing experience and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a scout.
Last year I started a little feature called ‘Observations from the Rink’ via social media. By no means was I trying to criticize the players or teams, I was simply trying to showcase the players and highlight some aspects of the game that has changed since I was a player and coach.
I also provided my insight from a broadcast perspective over the last four seasons covering the QMJHL and shed some light on some aspects of the game that I would like to see change like the respect factor between players, head contact among other countless topics.
When it was brought to my attention that my observations were being perceived as negative, I was truly devastated.
I subsequently deleted or locked all my observations.
As of late from time to time I’ve rekindled ‘Observations from the Rink’, however this time with a different approach and totally different angle.
To be brutally honest, it’s been difficult to separate my roles within the game. I’m relatively new to the scouting world, a world that has always been so intriguing to me. I certainly don’t want to screw that up, but I’ve witnessed so many outstanding performances and amazing storylines that the other side of me wants to cover it and showcase them due in large part to the lack of coverage on local sports.
Last night was another phenomenal example of an individual performance and an amazing story that really should be told.
Nevertheless, I’m not going to be the one to share it.
I’m going to document, report and highlight that performance in my scouting notes, but unfortunately I can’t showcase it publicly.
Earlier this season I wrote an article showcasing a young draft eligible player, something that I will never do again.
I was truly conflicted writing that article.
Was I showing favouritism? How would that be perceived? Is it really my job to showcase? Am I going to put extra pressure on the player?
I went through all the proper channels researching and writing the article, but I was still torn by it.
So this is why I wrote it?
I watched the player in question and was truly blown away by his skill, hockey sense, compete level and creativity.
I wrote the article because I was concerned that the player wouldn’t get the proper recognition he deserves due to his size.
That’s why I wrote it!
I will continue to post “Observations from the Rink’, from time to time as I did last night and this morning.
Covering hockey from three different angles has certainly been a game changer for me.
I will continue to showcase the game I love, the game that has given me so much, and the game that I will always respect.
A lot has changed since then.
I was really looking forward to the Gatorade Challenge this season to be able to meet and interview some top prospects and continue to write features and share these young player’s journey’s in the game.
That didn’t happen.
Over the past few weeks I’ve reached out to prospects across Atlantic Canada.
In the back of my mind I still feel somehow torn.
You see perception is a very powerful thing and one aspect that I realize I have no control over.
Showcasing a player’s journey and the sacrifices that they and their family’s have made to get them to this point of their career is very important to me and something that I feel needs to be shared.
Shared to help people realize how difficult it is to be scouted, how stressful that experience actually is.
It’s my honour and pleasure to write prospect articles.
To tell their stories. To tell local sport stories.
This isn’t about me, my role as a scout or colour analyst and writer, it’s all about the kid and their hockey dream.
I realize now more than ever that you can’t control perception especially in the hockey world.
The prospects that I’m writing also are dealing with their fair share of perception as well.
You really can’t escape perception in the game of hockey, it’s always going to be lurking amongst the critics and negativity.
Personally writing Observations From the Rink has been a game changer on so many levels.
Scouting, broadcasting and writing about the game I love has truly been amazing, it’s been a dream come true.
Perception will always being lurking, it’s inevitable, nevertheless in my opinion it’s how we deal it that reveals a person’s true character and integrity.
Perception will never go away, but my passion and love for the game and roles within it are as strong as ever.