The Contrarian – Player Testing

Thomas Drance

2014-06-08

Brett Hull Shea Weber David Backes

 

A draft prospect doesn’t have to be an Adonis to change the fate of a franchise.

So we all know what happened at this year's NHL Scouting Combine. Sam Bennett could not do a pull-up. Some people have made sarcastic comments about it while others politely made light of it.

 

I feel for the guy. He's following the protocol and wants to show well but in front of all the people and media he comes out of it a bit dinged up even though, as Scott Cullen of TSN quotes him saying "Games aren't won or lost based on pull-ups".

 

Cullen continues to write in his blog, "Cullen: At the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine", that he wishes that there would be some testing that is done on ice. He ponders if knowing the skating speed of all the players, because of the uniformity, would help teams make determinations.

 

This test on the surface might sound logical but it is just as flawed as any other physical test. If the player can skate fast that is nice, but the next question is can he be fast with the puck on his stick? Can he shoot with accuracy while streaking into the opponent's end of the ice? All the testing of player speed still will not determine if a player will use their speed to back check or if they will coast.

 

There is nothing wrong in capturing these stats or facts about a player but trying to make a specific stat become uber-meaningful is not going to happen.

 

In the autobiography, "Brett: His Own Story", Brett Hull talks about how the Calgary Flames did not like him because of his physical testing. "If you could do a million push-ups, chin-ups, and sit-ups, the Flames' coaches believed you were a good player. If you couldn't, the coaches believed you were a bad player. To that way of thinking, I was a bad player. Very bad", he says and continues, "It never seemed to matter how well I did on the ice. They seemed to care more about physical prowess that offensive production."

Hull does admit that he did need to focus on improving his training, "Hey, I'm a hockey player, not a decathlete. Conditioning, obviously, is very important in hockey. Better conditioning has helped me elevate my game. Blues assistant coach Bob Berry rode me about keeping my weight in check, and I sincerely thank him for it. Still, the Blues accepted that I could be a major contributor without being Charles Atlas. The Flames could not."

 

At last year's NHL Scouting Combine, Dale Tallon was quoted as saying, by Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun in the article called "Russian winger aims to crash top three NHL prospects", "Riding the bike and doing bench presses to me is not vital as far as hockey careers go. The puck doesn't weight that much", and "The interview process is more important. You just get an idea of how sincere they are. Is it rehearsed, or are they full of crap?"

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People might have forgotten that Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones all decided not to partake in