A former NHL player, Scott Nichol played in 662 games, including 209 as a member of the Nashville Predators between 2005 and 2009.
After the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, Nichol rejoined the Predators organization on a different side of the game, and now serves as the team’s Director of Player Development. In his current position, Nichol is tasked with helping young players prepare for life as a pro, both hockey and life related, after they have been drafted by the club.
When the Predators scouts descended on Bridgestone Arena for their annual spring scouting meetings during the first week in May, Nichol joined for the first time. Although the majority of Nichol’s work is done after a player has already been drafted, sitting in on the scouting meets gave him the opportunity to see what goes into preparing for the draft.
“It’s pretty amazing that with so many kids out there, how they look at each player and move him into a position where they think they want to draft him,” Nichol said.
Nichol was surprised at the focus that scouts give to each and every one of a player’s games and the attention given to attributes outside of just what is shown on the scoresheet.
“Everyone is pretty skilled, they wouldn’t be at this level if they weren’t,” Nichol said. “It’s all about your heart and your desire to get to the next level.”
As the scouts prepare to draft the newest players into the Predators system, Nichol is preparing to help them adjust to the life that lies ahead of them as professional athlete.
“My role is to take whatever draft pick we have and I’ll follow him through the year,” Nichol said.
“I’ll teach him how to be a good pro, a good person and how to carry himself.”
Nichol doesn’t just give advice on what it will be like to be a professional, but also helps prepare the Predators prospects for the culture of the organization.
“When they go from junior or college to Milwaukee or the NHL we want it to be a seamless transition,” Nichol said. “They already know our values and goals and what we expect from players, so when they get here, they don’t look quite like a ‘deer in the headlights.’”
With prospects playing anywhere from the Western Hockey League in Portland, Oregon to the Swedish Hockey League in Stockholm, Sweden and everywhere in between, it’s impossible for Nichol to make it to every city a Preds prospect calls home. In general, Nichol aims to see a prospect play live three to four times a season, but ultimately, its technology that helps him stay connected no matter what coast or time zone someone is in.
“Between Twitter, email, text messaging and all our video, we can keep pretty good tabs no matter where anybody lives or plays,” Nichol said.
While life off the ice and behind the glass is still new to Nichol, he’s appreciating the extra time with his family and the physical benefits that come with not being regularly chased around by a 6-4 guy intent on “ripping his head off.”
“I’m still learning,” Nichol said. “But I’m involved in the game that I loved playing and still love being a part of. It’s been fun; I’m really enjoying my job.”