“We pretty much spoke as a body in terms of putting out the list,” he says, speaking of the CSB. “But you would get approached by head scouts when you were out scouting and they would often seek your own individual opinion on people. I’ve had teams ask me why I didn’t like a certain guy and then they would end up drafting him. Every team arrives at their own rankings as well and is just trying to weigh different things into their own list in addition to what [Central Scouting] put out.
“I’ve also seen teams draft guys because you had recommended some other people to them in the past and they didn’t and he turned out to be a pretty good goaltender. It was just another opinion. As I continued in the job more and more, I began to get a lot more respect from certain scouting staffs and they wanted to know what you thought about individuals.
“To look back, I was surprisingly young – when I hadn’t played in the NHL – to be in that position. I look back and I was fortunate to have the opportunity and that’s what led to a coaching career, which again wasn’t really what I was looking to do at the time. But I’ve always loved hockey. My dream was to play in the NHL. When I was 10, the Leafs were my team. That’s when they won their last Stanley Cup. It greatly impacted me as a young man and that’s what I was going to do, nothing else. When I was about 18, I realized that dream wasn’t going to happen because I was short of the mark in talent level. I started looking to do some other things with my life and ended up back in hockey.”
The CSB gig led to stints as a goaltending coach in the NHL, and then his position with the German National Team led to a meeting with Kolzig and his current position with Washington.
“Olie and I had done some work together with the German national team.,” Prior recalls. “He had talked to me at the world championships and said that he thought they could use some help. Bill Ranford was here then. I had just completed a season where I had worked as a consultant with Dallas. I worked more often than we had originally planned and I also worked with the minor league team. I was fairly confident that they would make me an offer for another year and they did. They wanted to hire me to a full-time position with their team. I had also been working with German national team with all age groups.
“I promised Olie I would call [then Caps general manager] David Poile when I got back. Somewhere between the world championships and when I got back, David was no longer in that position as general manager. So I didn’t place any call. When George McPhee was hired, I did know George. I had actually played some with him at Guelph in juniors. I called him and told him I wasn’t really looking for a job but that I had promised Olie that I would call David. [George] told me that if anything changed I should let him know. Dallas went forward and wanted to hire me and increase my position, so they had an exclusive on my rights. But the fact that they didn’t re-sign Andy Moog or Arturs Irbe – the two goaltenders I had coached that previous season – I didn’t feel the same sort of bond to the organization. I would have to start over."
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