Alex Gauthier’s journey in the game of hockey as a player didn’t go to plan.
Nevertheless, his love and passion for the game never wavered.
“I was a very bad hockey player,” confessed Gauthier.
“I was a weak skater and I stopped playing when I was Atom. I just realized it wasn’t for me,” explained Gauthier who has been scouting for fifteen years.
“I loved the game, I studied it, watched NHL games and was doing stats analysis at a very young age.”
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was also very intriguing to the young hockey mind.
“I watched major junior hockey a lot and the World Junior’s. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens had some good teams in the 90’s so I followed them,” Gauthier said proudly.
Gauthier’s start and abrupt end in the game as a player didn’t derail his passion and hockey dreams.
“There’s no need to play the game to be a scout, but you may have to work harder to make a name for yourself.”
Alex Gauthier has certainly done just that.
Gauthier’s one of the youngest Head Scout’s in the QMJHL and has been evaluating and projecting young talent for quite sometime.
Many in the scouting world believe Gauthier has a very good eye for projecting talent.
“I don’t think I’m as young as you think,” joked Gauthier.
“I’ll be 35 in September and with a decent background in scouting, I don’t feel I’m young for the job,” Gauthier said with a smile.
“Some NHL GM’s are younger than I am,” he added.
“It’s fun to be part of a good group like we have in Moncton and if I can bring a little bit of leadership in that group, I’m just lucky to have the chance to do it.”
Gauthier might call it good fortune, but it’s taken incredible dedication and hard work to get him to this point of his career.
“I started in the scouting world in 2005-2006 when I was 20, for the International Scouting Service.”
“My parents were a billets for the Sags, so I grew up with major junior player at home,” Gauthier said.
“I have always been a hockey fan and stats lover, I emailed ISS’ head scout in Quebec to see if I could help. I started going to MAAA and Midget Espoir in Saguenay, putting reports in.”
Gauthier was living out his hockey dreams, but realized very quickly that the scouting world isn’t glamorous, you just have to put in the work.
All of the long hours started to pay off.
“I didn’t see many midget games before that, but I adapted fairly well,” Gauthier said.
“Two years after, the ISS scouts I worked with moved to work with the Lewiston Maineiacs and at the same time I moved down to Quebec City, to start studying a new career to be a radiation therapist,” explained Gauthier.
“The Maineiacs needed a scout in the Quebec City area and I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time,” Gauthier said.
The current Head Scout of the Moncton Wildcats is quick to credit Roger Shannon and Carl Bouchard for being an exceptional mentors early on in his scouting career.
“When I started with Lewiston, Roger was the head scout there and he became GM a few years after my first season.”
“When Alex started with me in Lewiston, many years back, it was clear with his passion and love for the game,” said Shannon.
“Combined with his easy going personality with an edge to stand up for what he believes in a player, I knew that he was going to be a great scout someday,” Shannon added.
“Alex was young, still in school, working on his profession, he has put thousands of hours in, and perfected his trade.”
“Alex really sees the potential in a young hockey player,” stressed Shannon.
“Roger was good, because even if I was young and not that experienced, he involved in a lot of aspects and I will be always thankful for that,” Gauthier said.
“When the Mainiacs were dissolved, Carl hired me in Chicoutimi. Coming both from the same cities, we knew each other for a little while.”
“Carl trusted me from the start of our work relationship and we worked together for five and half years.”
“Alex is a very passionate hockey guy,” Bouchard said.
“Alex has tremendous passion and an eye for the game.”
“He is a very intelligent and has a great eye for talent.”
“Alex is able to evaluate players and recognize what rounds players should be selected in,” explained the long time scout said.
Bouchard believes Gauthier’s strongest attributes as a scout are his ability to project, his eye for talent and his ability to effectively communicate with other colleagues.
“He’s open to talk with everyone, he’s open to talk about his vision and he’s accepting of the vision of other scouts on the team.”
“Alex has a lot of tools to be a really good head scout,” Bouchard said proudly.
“Alex is such a hard worker, he loves going to hockey games, when he’s there, he’s not talking with everyone, he’s there to observe, evaluate and rank players.”
“In my opinion, Alex is a really good scout,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard and Gauthier worked together three years with Chicoutimi and two and a half with the QMJHL’s CSR, before Gauthier got a call from a friend and mentor.
“Roger called me saying they needed someone in Moncton.”
Gauthier jumped at the opportunity to join the Wildcats organization.
“I have to thank Roger again,” Gauthier said.
Gauthier has always had a great eye for talent, but when it boils right down to it, every scout in the game wants to be trusted and valued.
Gauthier and Ritchie Thibeau got to know each other very well over that time with the Cats.
“I started working closer with Ritchie on the draft in 2017 and again it’s all a question of being trusted and I feel I got that from Ritchie.”
Gauthier was named the Wildcats Coordinator of Scouting for Quebec that same year.
“The more responsibilities Ritchie received over the years, the more trust I earned from him,” Gauthier said.
Gauthier has the utmost respect for Thibeau when it comes to the game.
“Ritchie is smart, he has a very good eye and doesn’t need much time to evaluate a player.”
“Ritchie is able to delegate and trust people and for someone who wants to have impact on a team, that’s very important,” stressed Gauthier.
What does Gauthier look for when scouting and projecting?
“You can group the characteristics of players in five tools,” said Gauthier.
“Skating, puck skills, hockey sense, competitiveness, grit and size.”
“All those can be detailed to a lot of degrees,” Gauthier added.
Gauthier’s five fundamental criteria to identify talent has certainly worked extremely well for the Wildcats over the past few seasons.
“The highest a player is taken in the draft, the more of those tools he would have to possess.”
“When I’m drafting a player, I want him to have at least one tool that is major junior level or close to it.”
“It’s tough to explain. There’s a lot of feeling in that, obviously the player needs to have a minimum in all the tools.”
“My other point when managing a draft is diversity. I don’t want all the players that we draft to be on the same mould.”
“You want to have the best character kid you can find and that’s really important,” Gauthier said.
What about projecting?
Arguably projecting is the toughest aspect of all when considering drafting young players especially fifteen year olds.
“Projecting talent is very difficult,” Gauthier said.
“For a large majority of players, it’s so much in their hands, I don’t think the young players realize that,” Gauthier said.
“However over the years, there’s one trend I observed. I’ve looked for the players that were number two on their teams, that maybe weren’t as mature physically as the top guy.”
“The players that needed to work hard, to play with a chip on their shoulder, those players could end up on the top when they reach physical maturity or turn the corner at seventeen or eighteen years old,” explained Gauthier.
For Gauthier character is still the ultimate intangible.
When it comes to draft day how difficult is it to defend players or have the final say on who gets drafted or who doesn’t?
“We work all as a group.”
“Yes, at the end of the day, we might have to decide the final name, but I make sure the boys had the chance to say whatever their opinions are on the players. So the job on draft day is relatively easy,” admitted Gauthier.
“Follow the list, trust the work we did during the year and from there, it’s just managing positions and type of players to make sure we don’t pick all same type of forward, defenceman.”
What is Gauthier’s end goal in the scouting game?
“I never really gave myself specific goals as far as scouting.”
“I want to be in an environement I’m respected, with people that are trusting me and in which I think I can have a positive impact on the team.”
“I just want to be part of a team and win a championship,” Gauthier said.
Gauthier and the Wildcats were well on their way this season before the horrific COVID-19 pandemic struck ending their championship aspirations.
There’s no question the Moncton Wildcats are in great hands moving forward with Thibeau and Gauthier at the helm.
“It means a lot,” Gauthier said when what it means to be a Moncton Wildcat.
“It’s a great organization, we have a very good conditions and I know that the organization will do what is needed to win.”
“At the end of the day, that’s what I want. I want to win a Memorial Cup with the Wildcats and I just feel lucky that they give me the responsibility to help achieve that,” Gauthier said.
“Alex loves what he does as a scout, he loves being in the rinks,” Wildcats Director of Hockey Operations Ritchie Thibeau said.
“He takes pride to make sure he knows all the players in his area.”
“Now that he’s head scout he has a book of record on all players,” Thibeau said.
“Alex is very organized, from organizing his scouts to make sure his scouts have the right viewings on the right players at the right times so we have that group evaluation,” explained Thibeau.
“Alex is very good listening to his scouts, but he’s also very strong on his opinions about players to make sure his opinion is known to validate against other scouts thinking as well based on their viewings.”
Similar to Bouchard and Shannon, Thibeau believes Gauthier’s eye for talent and his passion sets him a cut above.
“He’s got a good eye and it’s his passion for the game,”Thibeau said.
“He’s been in the league for a number of years, with Lewiston and with Central Scouting and it’s just his experience in watching the games. He has a good eye for talent in my mind and I trust him whether be looking at talent to draft or for possible trades and I definitely depend on his evaluations on players before I make a trade, I make sure that I get Alex’s opinion before I make those trades for sure,” explained Thibeau.
Gauthier is quick to serve up advice for others wanting to enter the scouting world.
“The first advice I would offer is go to games and focus on the games.”
“Trust what you see on the ice, work without hoping to get money or reward from it and just do it by passion.”
“Don’t try to cut the corners.”
“Keep your place, but don’t be afraid to speak, just pick your spots. Never think that you know everything, question yourself all the time.”
Gauthier’s journey in the scouting world couldn’t happen without the support of love ones.
“Young scouts should also find a partner in life that gives you the chance to live your passion,” Gauthier said.
Truly amazing advice by a scout that has seen it all when it comes to the game of hockey, a game that is truly part of his soul.