There are few sure things when it comes to mining good hockey talent.
But it’s in the chase that Brent Flahr finds a lot of his enjoyment – and greatest satisfaction – as the Ottawa Senators’ director of hockey operations. The 34-year-old native of Courtenay, B.C., works closely with general manager Bryan Murray and assistant GM Tim Murray, and oversees the Senators’ scouting staff at both the pro and amateur levels.
He’s also Tim Murray’s right-hand man with the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y.
For a guy who’s had a true passion for the game since he first started playing minor hockey on Vancouver Island, it’s the greatest of gigs. Flahr is in his second full campaign with the Senators after spending seven seasons with the Florida Panthers organization (1996-2003), followed by four years as a Vancouver-based amateur scout with the Anaheim Ducks. He’s worked with Bryan Murray at every stop along the way.
“I love the game and the people in the game are good,” said Flahr. “It’s a challenge every year. I was lucky enough to (be part of) a Cup winner (in 2007) in Anaheim when I was there – it was an unbelievable feeling. It’s the goal every year and only one team can win. But it’s fun chasing it and if you love the game, it’s a great job.”
Flahr played four years of U.S. college hockey at Princeton University but, unlike a lot of his classmates, didn’t dream of a career in high finance.
“It’s a liberal arts school, so most of the people there are going to Wall Street or that kind of thing,” said Flahr, who resides in Kanata with his wife, Dana. “I’m a small-town B.C. kid so New York City.… I like visiting but I didn’t have a lot of interest in living there. I went a different route.”
That path has taken him to arenas around the globe, honing an eye for talent that he’ll tell you didn’t arrive overnight.
“You have to work at it,” he said. “It’s not like you just step in and (know it). You learn every day. Some guys have an eye for it and some guys don’t.
“I’ve learned a lot working with Bryan and Tim. It’s a process when you start amateur scouting. You look at where some of these players are four years later, and it’s not a perfect science, that’s for sure. Anybody that tells you they’re 100 per cent right all the time is wrong. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Flahr calls scouting “kind of an art form. It’s a lot of projecting and sometimes luck, but you just hope you draft good kids that are willing to work hard at their game. That’s half the battle.”