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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:03 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards learned from the best

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Long before NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards became a respected scout, he was learning from the best of them.

It's the same road every scout takes, actually.

"Mike Sands worked with us at Central Scouting and I did a lot of traveling with him," Edwards said. "Then, he went on to Calgary and I actually took his job scouting when he left, but he was a guy who really helped me out a lot."

Sands previously served as an amateur scout for the Flames and with Central Scouting.

But the list doesn't end there. Edwards also received assistance from Frank Bonello (Central Scouting director, 1992-2005), Paul Goulet, Gerry Blair and several others.

"Frank Bonello gave me the opportunity to start scouting so I did a lot of traveling with him as well," Edwards said. "The thing is, you learn how to travel and live the life as a scout with veterans who have done it. I was fortunate enough where I learned how to that before I started scouting. I've been around all the guys, and listened to them for a lot of years while driving in the car with them."

Edwards then recalled Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Gregory. After 1979, Gregory became Central Scouting's director and, in 1986, the Executive Director of Hockey Operations. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and is the current chairman of the Hall of Fame committee.

"I remember doing all that video work and I used to have to go with Jimmy Gregory to a lot to Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo hockey games," Edwards said. "We had to make certain the video replay system was running properly. We had some bugs in the beginning, so I spent a lot of time with Jimmy over the years. During that time, I was able to go into the coaches' office and I remember going in and listening to Jimmy and Scotty Bowman talk. You learn about the game just by listening to these guys and it made a big impression on me."

Most importantly, however, Edwards remembers how gracious, understanding and personable Gregory always happened to be.

"There are so many good people in the game and especially Jim Gregory," Edwards said. "When you see the way he treats people; he's a guy in the Hall of Fame … to treat people as well as he does, that's the way you've got to be in this game if you're going to survive. There are some guys who come in and don't last very long, and it's simply because they lack the good people skills."

Then, there was the bond Edwards created with the late E.J. McGuire, who passed away last April following a five-month battle with cancer.

"E.J. taught me a lot about what it takes to be a pro hockey player and that came from his coaching days," Edwards said. "You listen to him talk about a player and he'd say this player does this very well and I could use him as a checker or whatever. You'd listen to the way the game is played from a guy who just finished coaching; it was very helpful."

The relationship between Edwards and McGuire wasn't just a one-way street, either. McGuire benefitted from Edwards' familiarity of Canadian geography. Something NHL.com has learned this week during the 'Life of a Scout' series -- Edwards doesn't use a GPS system or even a map at any time!

"E.J. didn't know where Moose Jaw was in relation to Swift Current or Medicine Hat," Edwards said. "So from my end of it, I may have helped him out with travel through the junior loops."

Bottom line here is, scouts help scouts. The respect is always mutual.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards provides best & unheralded scouted player

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- During pregame warmups for the Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centre on Friday, I was able to ask NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards a few off the cuff questions.

First, I was curious to know what player happened to be the finest slam dunk candidate to make it big that he had scouted in his 12 years in the business.

"Sidney Crosby," Edwards said.

Crosby, of course, was drafted by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League first overall in 2005 after earning consecutive Canadian Hockey League player of the year awards with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

"Crosby dominated right out of junior; there weren't any questions asked on the day of our final scouting meeting," Edwards said. "Crosby was one and then we began the debate with No. 2."

While Crosby might have been a definitive star in the making, Edwards had to think a few minutes when I inquired about the player he scouted who wasn't considered a slam dunk candidate in his draft year but certainly turned out to be that type of performer.

"I'd have to say Mike Richards," Edwards said. "I had Richards rated, at the time, between No. 27 and No. 32 in the OHL on the final list."

Richards, who is now playing in Los Angeles, was drafted No. 24 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. He had 133 goals and 349 points in 453 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.

"During his draft year, the new rules were beginning to kick in," Edwards explained. "He was considered a smaller (5-foot-11) player at that time and general managers were frowning on those types of players. But he made the world junior teams and has had a great NHL career. There was the stigma at that time that smaller players wouldn't make it, but Mike had that hockey sense, that playing ability that was rare in a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Arrival in Lethbridge; set for some junior hockey

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- So the NHL.com crew and NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards crossed the border and into the province of Alberta early this afternoon and, in the process, gained an hour.

Great! The day is even longer now … peachy.

In case you need it, you need to take just two highways to reach Lethbridge from Moose Jaw, Sask. That would be Highway 1 and Highway 3. It takes approximately six hours and 6 cups of coffee. Got it?

On the ride over, it was a steady minus-14 degrees Celsius and we saw a fox, cattle, horses, deer and buffalo. My window in the back seat was covered with frost buildup. In other words, I could have used an ice scraper on the inside of our Nissan Altima.

We've arrived at the ENMAX Centre and are awaiting the contest between the Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Edwards will be watching Red Deer defenseman and top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba closely and I hope to get some additional analysis later on.

Stay tuned …

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 7:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Morgan Rielly could miss season with knee injury

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Unfortunately for the rabid hockey fans that flooded Mosaic Place on Thursday to catch the final game of the 2011 Subway Super Series, highly touted and local prospect Morgan Rielly would be unavailable to participate.

The mobile defenseman, rated second on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list for 2012 NHL Draft eligible players from the Western Hockey League, will have surgery within the next two weeks to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered Nov. 6.

"Morgan went to the University of Saskatchewan and had an MRI done, which showed that his ACL was indeed torn," Rielly's father, Andy, told NHL.com via e-mail. "At this point, we are confident that he will be 100 percent by mid-April. The doctor has not ruled out a return as early as mid to late March but that will be a decision made at the time."

While it is a major blow for Rielly, who was in his second season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, it really shouldn't affect his draft status at this time.

The 5-foot-11.5, 190-pound Rielly led Moose Jaw in rookie scoring last season and was second among defensemen with 28 points, including 22 assists, in 65 games. He was the second youngest player to represent Team Canada at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships and he competed at the 2011 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

"Morgan is in pretty good spirits all considered, and very determined to get fully healed ahead of schedule," Andy Rielly wrote.

Rielly was injured on a play against the Calgary Hitmen after skating hard to the net at top speed before being knocked to the ice by former teammate Joe Kornelsen.

"It's unfortunate for our hockey club and obviously it's unfortunate for Morgan," Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar told the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. "The way we look at it, if he was to be back with our hockey team this year you're talking late in the season, playoff time or possibly not at all."

Rielly will have his surgery performed back home in Vancouver.

Rielly is the second top 2012 NHL Draft prospect to undergo major knee surgery this season. Sarnia Sting center Alex Galchenyuk had surgery to repair a torn ACL on Oct. 27 and likely will miss the rest of the season. Still, he was ranked second on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of the top Ontario Hockey League skaters for this year's draft.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:22 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Remembering 'The Crushed Can'

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- The Moose Jaw Civic Centre, a 3,146-seat multi-purpose arena located in the Saskatchewan city, is affectionately called 'The Crushed Can.'

 "The Crushed Can" in Moose Jaw, Sask.
It also happened to be one of the hot spots that NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards couldn't get enough of. So much history and nostalgia are associated with the 52-year-old facility, which used to house the hometown Warriors. Now, the Western Hockey League club plays at the 4,500-seat Mosaic Place, which opened last August.

"We call the Moose Jaw Civic Centre 'The Crushed Can'," said Edwards. "It got its name because you would think the roof was caving in. The dip in there is unlike anything you've ever seen and when you're inside the building, you can't see one side of the rink to the other because the roof is blocking your view."

Among those former and current NHL players who began their careers at 'The Crushed Can' were Clark Gillies, Theoren Fleury, Mike Keane, Kelly Buchberger and Troy Brouwer.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:08 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Long road trips take their toll on players

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Have you ever wondered if a scout takes into consideration a long road trip for a potential prospect in an upcoming game he intends to view?

  The mighty moose at tourist info center in Moose Jaw
Well, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards does.

While Edwards will always chart and view players equally, he also knows they're only human.

"Last Sunday, for instance, Guelph was in Brampton in the afternoon and they played Sarnia the night before [on Saturday]," Edwards recalled.

Actually, Guelph suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Erie on Nov. 4 before making the 2.5-hour drive to Sarnia (a 6-5 victory) the following night and then getting on a bus at 11 a.m. on Nov. 6 to travel to Brampton (a 3-1 loss). So that would be three games in basically two-in-a-half-days.

"That takes its toll on these guys, and not many leagues do it that way," Edwards said. "Now, on the flip side to that, if a player I'm scouting stands out despite the travel time and game action, then that's a kid that certainly will get close attention."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Defenseman Pulock impressing scout Edwards

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards was looking forward to catching a glimpse of 2013 draft eligible prospect Ryan Pulock on Thursday in the final game of the Subway Super Series.

Despite the fact Pulock just turned 17 on Oct. 6, he certainly gave Edwards plenty to think about. In addition to earning a regular shift alongside Colorado Avalanche draftee Duncan Siemens, Pulock also deposited a goal 16:54 into the second period off a slapshot from the point.

"He's shown very good mobility and he handled the puck well a couple of times," Edwards said. "He certainly fits right in … he was a good replacement. Sometimes, you have a tendency to cut a guy a little more slack if he's younger but he's essentially the same age as everyone out here."

Pulock was replacing Moose Jaw defenseman Morgan Rielly, who is out until April (torn ACL).

"But Pulock has proven himself just fine out here against the fast Russians."

Pulock (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) is in his second year with the Brandon Wheat Kings. As a 16-year-old rookie in 2010-11, Pulock led all Brandon defenders with 8 goals and 42 points. He has 8 goals and 26 points through 22 games this season.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

A phenomenon he will never forget

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- There was some pretty severe weather in Moose Jaw on Thursday. In fact, it kept NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards from continuing onward into Swift Current following the final game of the Subway Super Series at the brand new Mosaic Place.

Still, according to Edwards, it was no where near the coldest he's ever felt in this part of Western Canada.

"I remember when it was minus-54 degrees Celsius [on a trip to Moose Jaw] and guys were going out at the end of the second period to start up their cars," he said. "I remember saying to one of the local guys, 'Aren't you worried about getting your car stolen?' He told me 'Well there's no one really going to hang around and wait to steal a car in this weather.'

"After the game, we put the heaters and defrosters on and started driving back to Regina. I had to physically scrape the inside of the window with the scraper even with the heaters on. We were coming along here [Edwards pointed to the road in front of him while driving] and we could actually see the lights of Regina in a distance. When it's that cold, it's obviously clear and we could see the lights. I've never seen anything like it before or since; it almost looked like it was a glass wall of ice just shooting straight up into the air. I know it had to do with how cold it was and the moisture in the air was just freezing … I don't know the exact phenomenon, but it was neat and something I'll never forget."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:50 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards explains 'hockey sense' in a top prospect

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Earlier today, I asked Edwards about the importance of 'hockey sense' and what it all means as he views a potential draft candidate.

The term 'hockey sense' is a common phrase in the area of scouting.

"Making good plays with and without the puck," Edwards explained. "It's not trying to pass or force the puck up the middle when there's nothing there. Now, guys will make mistakes. It's going to happen at some time. If you consistently see a guy who is consistently doing something that is wrong, that kind of sends the red flags."

At different points in Wednesday's game in Regina, Edwards was impressed with the hockey sense exhibited by 2012 prospects Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels and Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets.

"It's knowing who to pick up in your own end and, when the other team has possession, knowing where to be and how to get yourself into the offensive zone … not standing still waiting for the pass."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Scout Edwards adjusts on the fly

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- While we safely reached our destination in Moose Jaw -- some 50 miles west of Regina -- the blizzard we encountered has forced NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to rethink his agenda.

Videographer Steve Hoffner tapes segment with Edwards
Instead of leaving for Swift Current following Thursday's final game of the 2011 Subway Super Series at Mosaic Place, Edwards had to change his hotel arrangements and instead will stay at a Comfort Inn in Moose Jaw. Of course, we'll be joining him.

Once we rolled in Moose Jaw, Edwards stopped his car to show me and videographer Steve Hoffner one of the area's top picture spots -- the big moose on the outskirts of town. Quite a moose.

We then passed the old arena where the Moose Jaw Warriors played their games. Outsiders refer to it at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre but the locals -- and Edwards -- know it as the 'crushed can' for its low roof line in the center of the building.

"If you're sitting on one side of the rink, you can't see across to the other side because the roof is so low," Edwards said. The plan, right now, is to make the six-hour drive west from Moose Jaw to Lethbridge on Friday morning at some point. We'll stop in Swift Current for some lunch.

Throughout the 45-minute drive from Regina to Moose Jaw, Edwards successfully navigated his way through a blizzard to reach his ultimate destination. Unfortunately, Edwards won't have an opportunity to chart the playing habits of 2012 top prospect and local boy Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors. He will, however, get another glimpse of Russian goalie Andrey Makarov of the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. According to NHL Central Scouting, Makarov, who played well in a 5-2 defeat to Team WHL on Wednesday at Brandt Centre in Regina, is the top-rated goalie in the Western Hockey League.

Edwards will also get an opportunity to see potential 2013 prospect Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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