Defenseman Rob Cowie turned pro after a four-year career at Northeastern University. During the 1994-95 season he made his NHL debut with the Kings as he appeared in his first 32 games and recorded nine points (2-7=9).
That next season, the 1995-96 campaign, Cowie played in 46 games for the Kings and he scored five goals. However, that was also the last season in which Cowie would grace the ice in the NHL.
For the next eight years, Cowie’s hockey journey would take him literally all over the globe. He enjoyed stops in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. In all, he played in eight different pro leagues and his longest stay was with the Berlin Polar Bears, a club in Germany now owned by AEG.
Now a pro scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Cowie recently answered the following questions for LAKings.com.
Q: What was it like to play for the Kings?
A: Well it was a dream on two counts. The first one was to make the NHL after trying for so long and it being a dream. And then if you remember the people in that dressing room back then it started and ended with Wayne Gretzky. There was also what I would consider borderline Hall of Famers like Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, and Marty McSorley. And then there were also great character guys like Pat Conacher that I learned a lot of stuff from, so it was an unreal day the day I got the call.
Q: Your first career goal was assisted by Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. What do you remember about playing with them?
A: One of the greatest things about [Gretzky] that you don’t hear a lot is just how inclusive he was as a person. I remember the first day I ever met him I went in the dressing room and he came right over and introduced himself and said, ‘Hi, I’m Wayne Gretzky,’ as if he had to say that. But that’s just the type of person he was. He immediately made me feel welcome and I cherish every day I was in that dressing room. It was a phenomenal experience. Having my first goal assisted by Gretzky and Kurri is something they’ll be talking about probably at my funeral.
Q: What was your best memory of playing in Los Angeles for the Kings organization?
A: I’d say my first goal was the one outstanding moment. Meeting my wife while I was here playing, and starting our family here, that’s a huge experience as well. Also just the time I played here I think I grew up as a better person, as well as a better player.
Q: What is your best memory as a professional hockey player?
A: A singular moment would be my time in LA and the first goal. All encompassing I would say over the 13 years I played pro hockey I would travel the world. I lived in great places all over the world. I had two children born in Europe. I’ve learned another language because I played in Germany for five years so I had to learn German. Just my whole life experience I think has made me a better person overall.
Q: What are you up to now?
A: Now I’m the Western Pro Scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs and I cover every NHL team in the Western Conference, as well as all the American League teams in Texas, Oklahoma City, and Abbotsford. I try to rate every player for free agency and for trades. For every young player that comes into an organization, I try to rate them how I think they’ll be when they’re in their peak performance years, which is supposed to be your 27th and 28th years in theory, as well as looking at guys that are going to be unrestricted free agents.
Q: How is being a scout different from playing?
A: Well if you talk to anybody that played with me they’ll tell you that I thought I knew it all back then. I’ve always kind of thought from this side of the game. Maybe it was to my advantage, maybe it wasn’t. I’ve always tried to talk to coaches and talk to GM’s about the things they were thinking, the things that they did. It led naturally to me getting into this side of the business and it’s something that I really, really enjoy.
Q: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned while being a scout?
A: I’ve learned in looking at a player that you can’t just judge a person by what he’s doing on the ice. Some of the greatest players on the ice that are bad in the locker room and bad teammates, you don’t want them. To try to find out, which is my job, about guys and their tendencies, their lifestyles, and to get an overall picture of what the person is like is not only the toughest thing to do, but it’s also the most important.
Q: What career goals do you have for the future?
A: Well I’m in my seventh year [as a scout]. I started with the New York Islanders and I’m now with the Leafs. As [the Leafs] continue to get better, and we have gotten better, the ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup for the team that I’m working for and help make that happen. Far into the future, I think I’d like to go back to Europe and run a team in one of the European leagues. I think after my kids are grown that would be a nice end to the story for me because I really enjoyed my time there. Other than that it’s all about winning.
Interview conducted by Ryan Kantor