Why Can’t We See the Good in a Player?

Why can we see the good in a player, rather than always criticizing and pinpointing their bad qualities?

Isn’t it all about projecting?

I’m not the be all, end all of scouting. I’ve made my share of mistakes and I will probably make more throughout my journey in the game.

As one longtime NHL Pro Scout told me a few years back, “Craig, you carry your mistakes with you, so you can learn from them.”

I can honestly say that I learn something every time I walk into a rink to scout a game or sit down to watch players on InStat from a far.

Every scout may have their top “lookfors” or evaluation techniques when assessing and projecting players, but for me, my past mistakes undoubtedly shape my future decisions, evaluations and projections.

Why can’t we focus on the positives, why does the hockey world always take a negative slant?

From my experience so far in the scouting world, it’s all about learning and growing, but more importantly learning from your mistakes, gaining experience and channeling that into the next scouting experience, the next game or next shift you evaluate a player.

Obviously, the negative aspects a player possesses tend to surface rather quickly, but why do so many focus on the negatives rather than looking at or zeroing in on all of the great things a player does?

Where are they now and where are they going to be on draft day and beyond?

Shouldn’t that be what scouting is all about?

I’ve been told that “Craig, when you like a player, you really like that player.”

In scouting terms that means that my scouting reports are way too positive and don’t vary enough throughput the season, or that’s how I interrupted it.

So does that mean I’m way too lenient, too positive?

Am I way too high on a player too early in the process?

Some would say yes, and some may say that I don’t know what the hell, I’m doing. So be it, but all I’m doing is projecting, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

Everyone will have their own unique projections at times, that’s what makes this job so intriguing.

I’m not going to get into great detail about certain scouting conversations over the years because many of those discussions were off the record as they should be. Don’t get me wrong there’s some young prospects out there that I simply wouldn’t draft. That doesn’t mean they won’t be fantastic players, that just means I’m not the biggest fan of the potential intangibles they possess. I sure as hell wouldn’t write about those and I sure as hell wouldn’t go out of my way to rip a kid on social media by writing a scathing analysis or report.

Like one lifelong hockey executive told me a long time ago, “Craig, it’s really easy to be negative, it doesn’t take too much to do that.”

It’s easy to rip a prospect and put them down and say they will never play or have an impact at the next level. It’s easy to be negative or narrow minded.

There’s a massive difference between being overly negative, narrow minded and objectively critical.

We all have our methodology, we all have our way of projecting talent and to each their own, but shouldn’t a player’s talents be evaluated, assessed and projected fairly? It should be, but many times it isn’t.

You see that’s why the scouting world varies so much.

We all see it differently, we project in our own unique way.

Projection or prediction?

You see players prove scouts right or wrong all of the time, that’s why the scouting business is so diverse.

There’s a time to be critically objective, there’s a time to be positive, but there’s always time to project.

Our mistakes are what guides us, unfortunately, so many in the scouting fraternity are scared to make them, scared to believe what they see, scared to put themselves out there for what they see in a player. You see that’s where the best discussions about players start, not end.

We all see it differently, some scouts are positive, some are negative, but when you can talk about players free from the surface area hockey rhetoric, that’s when the real projecting gets done.

Isn’t scouting about projecting?

Isn’t projecting seeing the good in a player rather than all their negative attributes?

What do you think? How do you see it?

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