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Guest Article On Getting Cut – The Experience And The Value Opportunity – Canadian Point Of View

Relationships have been built around connections made with Jr. hockey personnel, and those relationships should not be abandoned just because something did not work out.

First of all, if you were at a Jr. rookie camp or even at their main camp – someone on their staff liked you.  Scouts bring players to the tryouts, and while that does not guarantee a spot on the team, it doesn’t mean they were not hoping you would do well, pushing for you if it was close, and thinking their GM/Coaching staff was making a mistake when they cut you.  DO NOT lose sight of the fact that someone there likes/liked you!  Especially for those who actually received an invitation that was not a form letter or set up as a favour to your advisor.  Take a moment and appreciate that.  At this point last season you were likely just hoping a Jr. A scout would come and watch, let alone know your name and maybe even fight for you in roster discussions.

Moreover, take stock of what has occurred.  Initially – we will all feel some self pity, some anger, some “deck was always stacked against me,” “politics” or “agent play” – but consider that wherever you end up this year, back in U18 – Jr. B or tier III – you got a taste of the next level.  You will never go through that for the first time again. 

Former MLB Baseball pitcher Vernon Law once said – “Experience is a hard teacher, she gives the test first, and the lesson after” you’ve been there, and do not dismiss how that experience has molded and helped you mature as a hockey player.  Again, look back at the distance travelled from last year at this time – I think you will be impressed and motivated at how much farther you can go.  To be upset about what you don’t have, is to waste what you do have, and what you have already accomplished.

Furthermore, do you think when that Jr. A team said: “we will be out watching” that they were being truthful, or was that really just soft landing words in the exit discussions?  Well, if they were legitimately out watching the year before – there is a pretty fair chance they will be again. 

Scouting in hockey is a bit of a fraternity (with some great new female faces I am happy to say) and scouts all like to see each other after a summer off, so they will be out there watching at the first early bird event in September.  And you have a great opportunity to make them feel both rewarded for having invited / shown interest in you, and to make them feel – “dang it, I should have fought harder for him – now everyone is going to see him – I told them…, etc etc”  This really does happen. 

Be motivated, don’t be a victim.  Shane Wright was not drafted by the Montreal Canadiens #1 overall in 2022 – and with one, 2 second stare, he turned a perceived slight against him into a springboard to be the most motivated a competitor he could be.  And let’s be real, there was a contingent of people in the Montreal Canadiens room that was pushing and had been pushing hard for a while for Shane Wright to be the #1 overall pick.  He wasn’t, and that is disappointing for him – but his pity party only lasted a few minutes – and the moment of that staredown of the Montreal staff at their draft table – he lit the ashes and started burning the fire inside again, brighter and hotter than ever.  That is what competitors do – they pivot and compete.  Stuff will not always go your way – but you chose how you react to it and how it motivates you.

To boot, let’s look again at that relationship you had built skating in the summer, maybe with a scout or assistant coach with that Jr. A team.  Yeah, it made them some money – some assistant coaches do these skates/summer tournaments/leagues to supplement an income that is sometimes only marginally above the poverty line.  They are not the ones who have to make the final decision. 

A positively focused scout who sees the potential in players is not usually the guy who has to cut a kid on cut-down day.  They still like you – and you have the ability to continue that relationship.  This can serve multiple purposes –

1 – let them know where you are playing and mention that you hope you might get to see them for a chance in the future at that higher level (this shows maturity, determination, willingness to be in contact with adults who are in a position to further your career);

2 – have your name on scouts lips – they know you, you know them – and if you get a text that they ‘might see you at this showcase’ your name will be one they recognize more easily.  As I said above, scouts typically know each other well enough for some idle chit chat when the Zamboni is on, in the scouts room, etc – and they are competitors.  If they are out at a game where you score an amazing goal or make a great save – they will likely want other scouts know whose camp they were at because it makes them look good – they’re going to say “Did you see #11’s goal – yeah we had him at our camp, he was good – just not quite ready yet” or some such.  And your name spoken in such circles is a positive – every time a name is spoken it increases someone’s awareness of you/your abilities;

3 – you now have a resource.  A scout from a higher level team, or a player development person, can be a great resource when you need a kick start, when the coach has moved you down to the 4th line or you haven’t started in between the pipes in a few games because the other guys is playing really well.  If you have built a relationship with someone from a higher level team (on the bench over the summer in summer league, via text message info, whatever) – reach out and say hey – “any advice for how I can make the best of this situation” or “saw you were at the game – any feedback on my game would be greatly appreciated” A lot of guys think, my agent/advisor does this for me – well that is great if you can get that kind of personal attention from your advisor, but does another opinion who may not be getting a check from your family not also have merit, and perhaps even more so?

4 – you never know where a scout may end up; some organizations are stable, but others change coaches and GM’s with regularity, maybe this scout will be with a team where they have more say next season, or in a couple of years – don’t miss out on an opportunity to build a relationship with someone in the hockey world that could lead to something down the line!

In conclusion, we all get wrapped up in the devastating feeling of being cut.  I can tell you, every stone faced GM or coach feels those cuts too – from the kids who are just not ready yet to the kids who did everything you asked of them and just ended up without a chair when the music stopped.  Most of the GMs handle it with a stiff drink and cautious optimism that they made the right call – but it’s never easy, and it never should be.  But once it’s over, don’t let the disappointment, self-pity and anger destroy the relationship you have built with that team/scout.  It’s hard of course it’s hard.  It’s real and it’s hard. 

Like Shane Wright, stop the pity, pivot and start the stare down.  Remember that someone on that team’s management/scouting staff liked you and that doesn’t just get turned off like a switch – reach out to them once you are settled back in tier II or U18 and make them remember you.  Take stock of what you have accomplished since last year when no one knew who you were, and to get that one invite was all you were hoping for – and most importantly, take a step forward knowing what to expect – just like a level in a video game you did not conquer on the first time around – and use the experience to keep moving forwards.

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