-- Healthy debate and robust opinion were evidenced early and often during NHL Central Scouting's final meetings to determine the top North American players eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Perhaps Luke McGoey, Central Scouting's coordinator, said it best when he admitted, "We're being sequestered for the week."
While the scouts certainly were limited in their access to the outside world, instead spending nine-hour work days in a hotel conference room to complete their annual list of the top 210 skaters and 30 goalies, their mission was accomplished.
"I think it's been healthy for our group to go through this. Dan comes in and has that whole perspective of telling us what he got out of what we delivered in previous years. He's coming in and seeing what we have to go through to deliver that, so it gives us sort of a fresh look." -- David Gregory
"You like to see the passion and you want to see which player a scout will stand up and pound the table for," first-year NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. "There is a group of experienced scouts in this room, and they know the job as far as identifying the talent and finding the intangibles. I do think we'll get it right in the end."
Central Scouting's final list, which also will include the top 135 European skaters and 10 European goalies, will be revealed to NHL general managers April 9.
"You put a lot of work into the midseason list and you go back and watch the players, and it's always interesting to see those that improve based on the expectations you have and those who stalled a little bit and didn't come along as much as you'd like," Marr said. "You always like to find the surprises … guys that pop up that weren't in the mix before, and now you have some new names there."
Before joining Central Scouting, Marr had spent eight years as director of amateur scouting and player development for the Atlanta Thrashers. In all, Marr spent two decades as a scout with the Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs
before joining Central Scouting on Oct. 4.
While it was a laborious first season on the job, Marr said he felt the final meeting was a success.
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"I think with the experience of this staff, the dialogue and opinions put forth, that we have the top North American players in the order that we want to present them to the 30 teams," Marr said. "If you look back in history, we may have a couple players completely out of whack, but then we'll also be bang-on with some players for some teams. But that's just scouting … there is no science to it."
David Gregory, who has scouted parts of the Canadian Hockey League and many U.S. Eastern and Western clubs for Central Scouting for the last 10 years, said Marr provided a fresh, new perspective.
"I think it's been healthy for our group to go through this," Gregory told NHL.com. "Dan comes in and has that whole perspective of telling us what he got out of what we delivered in previous years. He's coming in and seeing what we have to go through to deliver that, so it gives us sort of a fresh look. You add things and you learn about how things could be done a little differently or better, and we can expand on that to create different kind of discussions in certain areas.
"There's a newness for us understanding Dan's perspective and Dan understanding what we've built over the last 10 years. To me, it's a really refreshing, excellent approach to moving forward to what we're going to deliver to the teams, which is our mandate to do."
One thing's for sure, working for Central Scouting is a lot different than operating under the guidelines of a general manager of an NHL team.
"It's more of a broader scale because we don't have to draft a player based on a team philosophy, team needs or by the number of forwards and defensemen we have on our reserve list," Marr said. "It's more of an open book, and I think that's what teams want. They want that independent, fresh, open-book opinion."
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