The names kept appearing. The wait and anticipation became agonizing.
Yes even as a scout I was hoping for some names to appear on the screen yesterday afternoon.
Refresh, refresh maybe I missed them.
You see as the afternoon went on I started to feel bad for these young men.
I’ve attended the QMJHL Draft before when it wasn’t held virtually of course and seeing and hearing the raw emotion on draft day, when a 15 year old kid and their family finally hear their name called, is truly amazing.
The last few years were different.
I could hardly wait for the next name to appear, round after round.
I even started looking at organizations that were on the clock, or organizations two to three picks in advance.
If I was feeling this anxious could you imagine the player and their families.
For some it’s a dream come true for others draft day is their worst nightmare.
I’ve seen first hand how hard these young men have worked. I’ve seen their supportive parents in cold rinks all across the Maritimes.
I felt so bad for them all on Day 2 of the QMJHL.
As a scout it’s my responsibility to recognize and project talent. I guess that’s where the personal side enters the picture.
For some players it might just not be in the cards.
I was exchanging text messages back and forth with a another scouting colleague saying that we couldn’t believe certain players were still on the board. There was a sense of relief when their names eventually appeared. Again, it might not be in the cards for some players. They might not be ready physically or mentally, I get that, that’s part of the game, but for others who have been passed over or even passed over twice one can only imagine how heartbreaking it is for them.
Hopefully a plethora of phone calls were received by 2005 and 2006 born players as soon as the draft ended.
Most organizations have a list of potential camp invites at the ready and those phone calls happen as saon as the draft is over, but in many cases the players that were passed over are still on the outside looking in.
I would love to call them all and tell them it’s never too late, that their journey in the game isn’t over, that their dreams could still come true, to never give up, but those are just words that they have probably heard them time and time again.
Some would say that I shouldn’t show any emotional connection or keep my role as a scout strictly professional. That’s just business, the hockey business.
I did reach out to a few families yesterday that saw their names appear on the board. Those messages are great, but I also did the opposite to those that didn’t see their name.
Again people within the game would say as a scout the line has to be drawn. Business side and personal side have to be extremely far a part.
That’s a hard thing to do. It’s incredibly hard when you see character kids getting passed over.
Let’s be very clear I’m not blaming organizations at all.
I realize the dream ends for some players sooner than some, but that’s hard for me to accept.
Every player has their own path in the game and that path isn’t always linear.
The unpredictable or unconventional path is always the most rewarding when it materializes.
Sure you can look at the famous quote from Moneyball, as a benchmark for players to accept their destiny in the game and it might be true or a brutal reality.
“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t know when that’s gonna be.”
If undrafted players were to read this I would just say this. To me it’s not over, to me it’s never too late. Please don’t give up on your hockey dreams.
Keep pushing, keep embracing the grind, I would never want you to look back and regret any decisions you made in a moment of disappointment.
Never give up, get yourself in the best shape of your life and go kick ass at those camps that you have been invited to.
Prove them all wrong, but more importantly prove it to yourself that you belong. Be ready for any opportunity, consider all of your options moving forward in the game.
Keep your head up, be proud of your accomplishments in the game and never and I mean never let someone else steal your passion and love for game.
Be disappointed, be devastated, but channel those emotions right now to fuel your fire. Stay the course, I’ll see you at the next level and you can bet your ass I’ll be writing about it.