If you’re a movie buff, you no doubt have a favourite actor or a multitude of them. Those actors have all starred in several films over the years and you no doubt know their entire filmography. You are incredibly familiar with their backstory, their roles, progression and their body of work. The question that everyone is asking especially with the next generation of young up and coming actors is where did they come from and who found them? How did the talent scouts for all of the major studios and now streaming platforms find these actors and identify their amazing talent. The search for talent, is the search for talent. From the audition, to the small stage to the build screen, from the bone chilling local rinks to the bright lights of the CHL, NCAA, to the NHL, the search for talent continues. It’s those that have the uncanny knack of identifying young players and the talents they possess early on and knowing how to project it which is a truly remarkable talent of its own.
Mr. Mitton. My former English teacher at Moncton High called “it” or “people” the “good stuff.” I will never forget how he taught class and had command of the group. His awareness, integrity, curiosity, and ability to read everyone’s pulse and talent in that classroom was truly amazing. His ability to spot the low-key shy kid and elevate or lift them up and reward their work and talent was something that I will never ever forget.
In some strange way, scouts do the exact same thing. Call it instincts, experience or expertise, all of the best scouts in the business can spot the “good stuff” in players when others can’t necessarily see it. They have an innate ability to see a player’s growth and maturity before it happens. Obviously, the scouting game isn’t an exact science and those that have been around it for a long time understand that they carry their mistakes with them every time out, but the search for the “good stuff” is never ending in the scouting game. “Oh, he’s a player” or “he will definitely play” is the common theme amongst the percentage of scouts that can spot the “good stuff” almost instantly.
“It doesn’t really matter where you play, if you’re good enough, people will find you.” That’s usually what I say when people ask about the level in which young draft eligible prospects play and if scouts will recruit and eventually draft them. I wish it was as simple as that, unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.
Scouts across the hockey world can spin a good yarn about the first time or first viewing of a particular player or players that have gone on to have amazing careers at the pro level. Some would say it’s obvious to spot the dead ringers or the sure things, but there are so many intangibles that come with that side of the job and projecting the next generation of young pros. You see that’s exactly what makes it so fascinating. How did they identify or spot the late round pick and know that they would have success? How did the talent scout know that the young actor in question would be perfect for a role that would propel them to super stardom. One thing I learned from Mr. Mitton all those years ago, is that you can’t fake the “good stuff.” Sure, there can be glimpses of it from time to time, but if you have it, you have it. Sometimes, it takes the right people to see it, appreciate it and ignite it, but the “goods” are always there. It takes time for some to find it, and when they do, look out. I guess you could have late bloomers in both the acting and sporting realm. Their unconventional paths to top of their respective industries is remarkable. We hear and witness those types of stories all of the time nowadays, and a matter they never ever get old.
Instinct, Experience or Expertise?
Is it instinct, experience or expertise? Well one could argue it’s a little from column A, B and C. Talent scouts are no doubt looking for well-rounded actors that have the ability to play and star in any role they are thrust into. The same could be said about hockey scouts. With more and more social media platforms popping up, we are getting a glimpse into old audition tapes of young actors landing their career defining starring roles. What’s the difference between that and a hockey player? Some of the best scouts have their pulse on every up-and-coming player as they climb the ladder, but they are also familiar with those players flying under the radar. Everyone sees it differently, every scout has their own unique criteria when it comes to assessing, evaluating and projecting talent.
From the scouts who spot the talent to the actor or player that possess the “good stuff” or quiet talent. At the end of the day, all the actor or player requires is an opportunity to fulfill their optimum role so they can flourish and reach their maximum potential. In many ways it all boils down to the intangibles they all possess. In all of the scenarios mentioned we can’t overlook the importance of advocation. Believing in the actor or player on a personal level and having a belief and trust in the scout from an organizational standpoint would undoubtedly be a game changer on so many levels.
The all-important audition which showcases the actor’s range of talents versus the draft year. There are so many similarities between the two, but we can never overlook those groomed or those that have been born into the business so to speak. Perhaps that’s a story for another time. Child actors and hockey prodigies with parents that have been there and done it all before.
The search continues, as well as all of the auditions.
See you at the rink!