Ep.10 | Through the Eyes of a Scout with Brian Prout

In this episode we learn what scouts really look for in a player from off-ice behaviour and family life, to on-ice skills and hockey sense. Hear first hand where the emphasis lies when selecting a player, what background checks are done, and  what factors contribute to predicting a players potential.

Show Notes and Resources

Brian Prout
Head Scout/Assistant GM Saginaw Spirit

Prior to working in Hockey Operations, Brian worked on the business side of hockey. He earned a degree in Kinesiology and a Masters in Sport Management from the University of Windsor then proceeded to do a year-long internship with the Detroit Red Wings. Following his time as an intern, Brian started his career building the corporate sales for the Saginaw Spirit as they were relocated from North Bay. He continued progressing with Saginaw and eventually made a move to Vice President of Hockey Operations with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. In 2015 Brian went back to Saginaw as the Assistant General Manager and Head Scout and remains in that role today.

Kicking off this conversation, Brian speaks to importance of building your network in hockey. He explains that the hockey community is close knit, and networking is a crucial part of your development whether you are a player, coach, or manager. The idea is to interact with as many people as possible to learn, share ideas, and acquire contacts. Scouts and managers are constantly in communication with one another and trying to get inside information on an upcoming player is extremely valuable.

On player selection:
As a scout and manager, Brian explains the significance of understanding your roster, and what type of players are needed to fit within the team. In terms of management structure, the coaches and decision-making personnel must be on the same page when building a team and looking for new pieces to add to the puzzle. Gathering a specific understanding on what different players can bring to the table and which of them is worth the investment is a top priority.

One of the most sought-after quality’s when selecting a player is CHARACTER. As these young kids leave home in pursuit of being a professional, the team cannot afford to babysit everyone 24-hours a day. These young men must have the maturity to make good decisions, show up on time, follow the rules, and perform well in school in order to be strongly considered. These individuals must also have the mental preparedness to learn the grind of hockey and accept there is a development period to work through.

Advice for parents:
When it comes to parenting, Brian advises that goal setting and self-advocation are key traits that parents should work to instill in their kids. As guardians, being supportive is great, but taking the lead on their child’s pursuit of hockey is a red flag. Let the player speak for themselves and handle the interactions.

Standing out as a player:
As the game becomes ever more skilled, giving an opponent time and space will tear you apart. What catches Brian’s eye are players with a tenacious puck pursuit. Someone who works to eliminate time and space from opponents. A hard worker who backchecks with a purpose, consistently stripping pucks, pursuing pucks and putting pressure on opponents to create turnovers. The main takeaway is that work ethic will get you noticed initially. After that, skill and how well you think the game really separates a player.

Brian explains that watches the player’s in game ability, but also his body language. He keeps a keen eye on reactions to a bad play, interactions with teammates, and communication with the coaches on the bench.

Brian’s tips when it comes to skills are:
– Be mobile
– Make good decisions under pressure
– Make the easy play
– Keep it simple; things don’t have to be fancy.

Contrary to popular belief, it does not matter if you play on a great team or not. Area scouts identify players they like for their team. Very little talk is about the team that they are on. This is extremely important for both players and parents to keep in mind. If you are a player worth finding, you will be found.

Enjoy this episode with Brian Prout!