The NHL is celebrating women in hockey, and every week this season, NHL.com will highlight a woman from each of the 32 teams. Today, a look at Carolina Hurricanes pro scout Ellen Etchingham:

Name: Ellen Etchingham

Job title: Pro scout

Education: BA in International Studies and Religious Studies, DePaul University

Years of hockey experience: Depends how broadly you define “hockey-related experience.” 1 year working in the NHL; 3 years professional hockey writing; 5 years writing for my own hockey website.

Describe your job in 2-3 sentences: I track players in other NHL teams’ systems, watching their games and writing reports on their current abilities, fit for our needs/system, and, when applicable, projected future development.

What was your first-ever job, and did it prepare you for the work you do today?

I worked at a costume rental place, doing repairs and cleaning. Not a lot of direct relationships to scouting, other than that it’s seasonal and gives you a lot of sympathy for how hard it is to be a mascot.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

Let your interests, experiences, and knowledge from different areas cross-pollinate. Sometimes an idea that’s commonplace in one subject or field will be wildly innovative when applied to a different one. Even if an idea doesn’t translate directly between areas, it can often open up a new avenue for exploration that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

What career advice can you give others?

It’s really important to hone your own internal sense of what it means to do your best work, because if you have the chance to do something you really care about, you need to put the quality of your work first -- before your ego, before what you think the market demands, before pleasing others. External measures of success can (and will) fluctuate, but if the quality of your work is high, it will tend to lead to good things.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?

I wrote about hockey for a long time before I started working in the sport, and I think I came up with a few pieces that were really good and readers really loved. When you put a lot of yourself into creating something, send it out into the world, and find that it resonates with others -- it’s just the best feeling.

What do you love most about your job?

Noticing new details about a player’s style and then trying to puzzle out how much they matter in terms of driving outcomes. There are a few different levels on which a scout can evaluate a performance, so in addition to honing your observation skills, you also need to apply a fair bit of critical thinking to how you’re valuing what you observe.

Describe a moment where you proudly thought to yourself, “I can’t believe this is my job!”

Every time I start digging into a new player or get assigned a new project. I have a restless mind; if I’m not learning something new, I’m not happy, so I feel extremely lucky to have a job where learning new things is basically the entire purpose.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?


What’s your favorite book?

“The Master and Margarita,” by Mikhail Bulgakov

One thing you can’t live without?


Do you collect anything?

I used to get a toque for the home team every time I went to a new hockey arena, no matter what the league/level. I don’t do that when I’m attending games in a professional capacity, but I still have the collection. (Yes, I know that’s a lot more than one word, but I couldn’t think of an honest one-word answer)

What is your hobby outside of work?

Trying to learn new languages, badly.