“The Five S’s”

1,604 Notes.

That’s the grand total as of right now.

I know that’s an astronomical amount to have in a phone, especially an IPhone 5E, yes I still have an 5E, I don’t feel the need to upgrade right now, lol. So, the other day I started the daunting task of trying to delete some old notes to free up some much-needed space. I write 98% of my articles on my phone, so I hate to delete the original copies, but they need to go.

Ironically, it was a note from December 22, 2016 that caught my eye right away. All the note said was “The Five S’s. Size, speed, strength, skill and smarts. On the next line all that was written was “intangibles.” 

Obviously, anyone can identify those five attributes, but looking back on it now, I was about a month into my journey in the scouting world and trying to gain some footing in what to look for and project in young players so I could rank them for the QMJHL’s CSR or central scouting agency.

Clearly “The Five S’s” are quintessential aspects that go into the making of any great athlete, but in my opinion it’s the word intangibles that is the difference maker. I’ve been writing about intangibles certain hockey players possess for years now and they are equally if not more important now than even six years ago. There are so many players that possess “the Five S’s” from a very young age but struggle with harnessing it or continuing to develop those attributes to maximize their full potential at each level. That’s where the intangibles come in. We all have our own unique definition of intangibles that players possess, but in my opinion, that can be summarized by two or three words. 

“Give a shit factor, character and compete.” 

There are so many young talented players that possess “the Five S’s, but they sometimes lack the intangibles that make the difference. As those players move through the ranks, things seem to go awry, there’s something missing. Some young players nowadays seemingly appear like they don’t care or aren’t invested in the process at times, or they don’t completely understand how important the intangibles really are?

What if players don’t possess all of the Five S’s? Well, clearly, they will have to possess some intangibles if they want to go farther in the game. Intangibles are the great equalizer when it comes to projecting talent.

Every team and dressing room needs it, only certain players can ever bring it. You can’t win without it, grit, character and “give a shit” factor. It’s easy to label or typecast certain players.

As wrong as that might seem, it happens all the time. That’s a superficial approach to scouting.

Obviously, every scout and organization are looking for “The Five S” athlete that possesses all of the intangibles as well. To find a player’s true value and full potential, one has to project and accurately access the present and predict the future. Sure, they possess all the goods, but do they have it where it counts, do they have the character it takes on and off the ice.

Honest, heart and soul or role players often get overlooked because they might only possess one or two aspects of “the Five S’s,” but they quickly make up for that with other qualities.

6 years ago, I was trying to search for, project and rank players with “the Five S’s,” but what I found was a greater appreciation for the intangibles every player brings to their team, the game and their style of play. Five S players are hard to come by, it’s incredibly special when they do come on the scene. Players that possess the intangibles it takes to play at a high level are equally as rare. Everyone sees the game differently, evaluates talent and values certain qualities differently. Nevertheless, it’s easy to see “the Five S” players, it’s not so easy to always evaluate, assess and project the intangibles certain players possesses. There are so many intangibles, so many variables that are out of our control.  Projections aren’t perfect. Comparisons aren’t full proof, but we always rely on our instincts and our experiences to continue to lead the way.

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. 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. The search and journey continues, for players and prospects, not a new phone!

1,605 Notes and holding.

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