Long before Chris Bordeleau and B.J. MacDonald began evaluating talent as full-time employees at NHL Central Scouting, they were skating with and against some of the very best in NHL history.
Charron, Williams to carry tradition at NHL Central Scouting
Dan Marr, the NHL Director of Central Scouting, is confident new scouting hires Michel Charron and John Williams will carry on the tradition of excellence at the bureau.
The veteran scouts will replace Chris Bordeleau and B.J. MacDonald on the full-time staff. Bordeleau and MacDonald announced their retirements following the 2013-14 season, and will leave the group officially Oct. 15.
Charron will be responsible for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Eastern Canadian regions. He has worked with Central Scouting as a regional scout in the Gatineau, Quebec, area the past seven years and has extensive scouting and coaching experience in the QMJHL.
"It was a natural fit for him to step into a full-time role and both Bordeleau and Chris Edwards [Central Scouting's Ontario Hockey League scout] recommended him and that carries a lot of influence," Marr said. "I've known Michel for three seasons and feel he'll slide right into the position and we won't miss a beat."
Charron recently retired after 30 years of service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Williams will do much of his scouting in the Western Hockey League and Western Canadian region and work closely with the other veteran WHL scout on the staff, Peter Sullivan. Williams had served as assistant director of scouting for the Columbus Blue Jackets the past five years and his extensive scouting background spans 25 years, beginning with nine seasons in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
"John brings a wealth of experience from an NHL team and he's well situated in the West," Marr said. "He had a higher-position role as assistant director of scouting with Columbus and I think we have someone ready to step right in and work extremely hard. Between John and Peter, we'll be well served in the West."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Bordeleau won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1968-69 while playing in 13 games alongside Hockey Hall of Fame members Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard and "Gump" Worsley.
MacDonald not only helped Wayne Gretzky score the first of his NHL-best 894 goals with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80, but he also was part of the second-highest scoring line in the League that season. The G-M-C line, which consisted of Gretzky centering MacDonald at right wing and Brett Callighen at left wing, had 120 goals and 289 points that season.
After their productive hockey careers, Bordeleau and MacDonald ultimately moved into scouting for the NHL. It was a position in which they excelled and were committed, just as they were as players.
Their effort and determination was a big reason NHL Central Scouting reached new heights during the past decade and also the reason both will be missed. Bordeleau and MacDonald officially will retire from their posts at Central Scouting on Oct. 15.
Bordeleau was the top scout for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Eastern Canada region; MacDonald covered the Western Hockey League and Western Canada region.
"They both had NHL careers, which is something unique to bring to a scouting staff," Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting, said. "Their projections and observations on players and their opinions carried a lot of weight."
Central Scouting also announced the hirings of Michel Charron and John Williams to full-time positions. Charron will scout the QMJHL and Williams will cover the WHL.
Bordeleau, who will turn 67 on Sept. 23, spent 21 years at Central Scouting, becoming a vital force in uncovering hidden talent in the QMJHL.
"I remember scouting Sidney Crosby [with the Rimouski Oceanic]; you don't come across individuals like that all the time," Bordeleau said. "He'd go into the corner and you couldn't take the puck away from him. He was so strong and was a complete package. He did things that, to me, proved he'd be something special."
"Chris was a huge part of building Central into what it is today," said Chris Edwards, Central Scouting's Ontario Hockey League scout. "I have met very few people who have the passion for hockey that he does. Chris always served the game of hockey first and put the best interest of the sport above his own. Over the past 23 years I've become very close to Chris and his family and will miss working, traveling and biking with him."
Bordeleau is an avid cyclist and said he's determined to become a better golfer. What did he enjoy most about scouting?
"The 30 NHL teams are paying us for our opinion on players so you can't sit on the fence so I'd always make it a point to tell you whether the player has a good chance or he doesn't," Bordeleau said. "But the thing I liked was that, as a group, the list was never my list but our list. I spent 21 years getting paid to watch hockey games so I was really fortunate."
MacDonald, 60, was hired by Central Scouting in 2004 and became a key cog in pinpointing the top players in the Western Hockey League.
"The thing that interested me most about scouting was watching the development of the players and in the end figuring out that you assessed and projected them accurately," MacDonald said. "My fondest memories were hammering out the midterm and year-end lists while always being interested in the different points of view and how we all could come to a unified decision."
"B.J. always had a great comparison to the players we were discussing," Edwards said. "He always gave a firm opinion that was his own. Beyond being one of the best hockey people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, B.J. knew more about wine than anybody else I have ever worked with."
From 1988-91 MacDonald coached the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He'd led the club to a Turner Cup championship in 1988-89 and was given a Stanley Cup championship ring as part of the Penguins' organization during their 1991 Stanley Cup run.
MacDonald said he plans to do a lot of travelling now that he's not locked in to visiting an arena somewhere in Western Canada.
During his scouting days he said John Tavares, who played for the Oshawa Generals and London Knights in the OHL, was the finest prospect he ever scouted.
"I also enjoyed watching Tyler Seguin [Plymouth, OHL], Patrick Kane [USNTDP and London], Morgan Rielly [Moose Jaw, WHL] and Aaron Ekblad [Barrie, OHL]," MacDonald said.
What are MacDonald's immediate plans now that he has more spare time?
"I tell people, I wake up in the morning with nothing to do and get to bed at night with only half of it done," he said.