Scouting: Is seeing a guy play live necessary?

Discussion in 'NHL Draft - Prospects' started by Lard_Lad, May 20, 2004.

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  1. Lard_Lad

    Lard_Lad Registered User

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    (I was going to post this in the X-Sharkie thread, but no point in pushing that even farther off-topic.)

    Is it necessary to see a prospect in person to have a credible opinion on him?

    There seems to be a pretty sharp divide in the forums on this subject. And not surprisingly, the split seems to be between guys who are in places where they can see a lot of prospects play (junior and college towns, primarily) and those that can't.

    Personally, I can't attach much credibility to what somebody has to say about a WHL prospect they've only seen on TV and read about on the internet, and I don't expect anybody to put much stock in any comment I'd have about a guy in the OHL or Russia. TV can show you the obvious parts of a guy's game, but unless you're watching several games/tapes and focusing on a single player, the more subtle parts - finishing checks, play away from the puck, communication with teammates, and so on - are much more difficult to pick up on, because the camera is always pointed at the puck. Watching a game or two on TV also doesn't give you the perspective on a player's rate of improvement that seeing several games over the course of a season or more will.

    NHL teams seem to agree; most of their scouts work out in the field, as opposed to staying in a central location and reviewing game tapes.

    But I know a lot of other people think it's possible to do a good scouting job on a player without seeing him live. I'd like to hear a little more of their arguments about why they're right, without the 'so-and-so is just copying from McKeen's' aspect getting in the way. Opinions?
     
  2. West

    West Registered User

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    Seeing as TV's my only option for viewing teams that don't come through Ontario regularly I base alot of opinions on what I've seen on TV. The biggest difference between watching TV than going to the rink for me is being able to tell how good the player is away from the puck and how much you get to focus on a player(obviously).

    Also I'm a stat's junkie so I usually look at a players stat's before I give an opinion.

    Realistically that's all most poster can tell you unless they're working for a team in some capacity (and I've never heard of anyone who claims to here). Although some people know people who do.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2004
  3. Mizral

    Mizral Registered User

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    I've watched many, many prospects via the WHL or BCHL live, and many games NHL live, of course many more on TV for both. Honestly, watching a player live and on TV is pretty close. Live does have certain advantages:

    #1 - It gives you a better appreciation for speed ... skating and shoot power.

    #2 - You can catch things behind the play better

    Outside of those two things, I really don't think you have to see a prospect live to have any better of an opinion of him than one that does live.

    I would also add that with stats being a they are and scouting being so much more of a refined art than it used to be, you could probobly find everything you need to know about how a player plays by simply going on the net these days.
     
  4. Golbez

    Golbez Registered User

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    While the internet is a great source for information, there is no replacement for seeing a prospect play live in person.
    Seeing Giants games on TV and going to them live has given me a great appreciation of the different things I can see by going to the game live. It's also much easier to focus in on one player and find out how they do away from the play. Most of the action for any one position player is away from the puck, and that is very hard to get a good look at from just seeing them on TV.
     
  5. Mizral

    Mizral Registered User

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    In a way, reading scouting reports does have an advantage. If you only catch a prospect 3 times in a year or something, I'd trust a scouting report over someone just seeing him 3 times. Why? The scouting report likely is a compendium of 10 or more games seen by the scout. In only 3 games, the player could have had a couple of bad games, or was slightly injured at the time, or maybe something going on in his personal life at the time that is affecting his game. Over 10 or more games, you get a better idea of exactly what he plays like, since surely in a 10 game span, a player is going to show you what he has at some point in there.
     
  6. MaV

    MaV Registered User

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    Just sementic, but if one is able to find needed on the net I wouldn't call what he is doing scouting. After all someone has to see the player and then possibly put his results of this scouting available for others, maybe via Internet. The readers of that information are doing something else than scouting IMO.
     
  7. Spezza

    Spezza Registered User

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    While I think the net is a great tool for hearing about prospects and hearing about the obvious parts of their game its not enough alone. I think you can maybe can get away with it on Video, but to get a true read on there potential you'd really need to see them a couple of times and peferably not in a row.

    Thats why I always like hearing from guys who have seen a player play a fair few times (preferably in the flesh), more likely to know there tendancies and there short comings. It's harder to put much stock into someone who has only seen a player once.
     
  8. Doug Evinou

    Doug Evinou Registered User

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    this post is a little ridiculous ... obviously you'll be able to see what a guy can do with the puck on t.v. b/c the camera's follow the puck .. .but you won't be able to see his efforts to get back on defense ... a player's willingness to go into high traffic zones ... his intelligence and ability to create space for himself ... his ability to identify his defensive assignment early in the play ... it is even hard to just see who how the coach is matching up a player against the other team ... does he yank him off the ice when the other team's top players get on ... you'll be able to see when a player has an on-shift, but not when he takes a shift off and doesn't fight for position or the puck, and never gets the puck - and is therefore not on camera. it's even difficult to see when a player identifies teammates when he has the puck .. .does it take him forever to realize he has a teammate wide open streaking down the wing, or does he have his head on a pivot and sees him right away ...

    just reading scouting reports can be precarious as well ... .they can tend to be a little cliche and generic as well ...
     
  9. Vincent_TheGreat

    Vincent_TheGreat Registered User

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    Absolutely Not! Tape is better in my opinion, you can rewind and review things you missed like foot work, speed, accleration, puck handling, moves, defensive zone play and such which you can and will miss during a live game.
     
  10. Golbez

    Golbez Registered User

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    I've watched a few games live, and then watched them on TV and was able to confirm things or learn something new. The viewing scope on TV is small, though, so it's harder to learn as much about true defensive play and play away from the puck. It's play on the puck that you get a good view of.

    Obviously, many games for the players being scouted simply aren't available on television, so you'll have to see them live to get a view of the players.

    Many of the CSS scouting reports available publicly are very 'cliched' and almost all-positive. A good scouting report will have a critical eye on both strengths and weaknessess, and a reasonable projection of upside, not necessarily the top-percentile projection.
     
  11. montreal

    montreal Go Habs Go

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    That's what I was going to say. It works both ways. With a tape you can focus on one player and follow his every move. I have even done an article for another site where I went frame by frame everytime Kastsitsyn was on the ice,

    http://www.habsworld.net/show_big_news.php?id=222


    When watching a player only by tape you miss out on everything of that player when the cameras not on him. So while you can repeat a play over and over, you will miss his play without the puck, it's a trade off. I have about 40 games on tape from all different leagues, cause I enjoy watching hockey, and I've found others like to see junior or Euro hockey but can not get out to the games, so tape trading was started. I get a lot of NCAA off directv (4-5 games ever friday night, thanks CSTV!) and some AHL/ECHL/USHL/WJC as well. Then I trade for QMJHL, OHL, WHL, RSL, sm-liiga games, but there's not to many people to trade with, although I find more and more. I do go out to games as well, but I only went to 4 games this year (all Hamilton Bulldogs) so the tapes help me get a read on a player. It's just one persons opinion and fun to see some good hockey games that I would never have seen before. This year alone I got to see 5 RSL games and 1 sm-liiga game, which I had never seen before. While not a great source it helps for sure.
     
  12. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    I personally attend about a Dozen NCAA Games a year and close to twenty USHL games. Both sides of the fence have there advantages...If I'm at a live game I can follow a guy, I personally prefer watching a guy live, but on tape, it's very nice to be able to rewind the play and really watch the player think it out and re act and make the nice play, live you kind of get flat footed and just go wow nice play but you don't know everything.

    I saw Marcel Goc on tape before this season and I saw his game near the puck, and then I watched him live this year in the AHL, and I didn't think I missed much on his play from just watching the tape on him.

    I'll take the live viewing, but us people who have to be satisfied with vieiwings from the T.V. Screen do have are advantages.

    Ask any G.M. and Chief scout, I think they'll agree that video tape on players is a great rescource.
     
  13. bigeasy

    bigeasy Registered User

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    my experience is as a college football recruiter. i was a college football coach for 13 years and did it at all levels from naia to major college football. and during this i had a great deal of contact w/ nfl scouts and still do. i do not think there would be a whole lot of difference, there may be.

    the negative about live is it happens once and at full speed. i would guess that scouts that are at the games have spent several hours in offices that day watching tape. most nfl scouts don't even go to the game(unless it's gonna be a great game ;) ). they will never see them play live. now this my be different in hockey i am not sure. in my opinion the best way to evaluate is to see game tape. this shows everything and you can rewind.

    as for the tv it is better then nothing but you are limited in what you see. the scouting reports are fun and positive but no substitue for seeing the prospect play(live, tv or tape) if someone has seen them live they would have a more complete idea of the player and would have more information then some one who has only seen them on tv.

    another issue is who is seeing them. if they know what they are looking at. and being a player doesn't automatically qualify you as an expert. identifying talent, imo, is a gift you are born with. i have worked w/ some guys who have been in the profession for a long time and sucked at it. and some were good at it.

    so seeing a guy live is not necessary in football(they do see them live to test them - running, jumping and skills) but on tape is. tv is better then nothing but not as good as live or tape.

    if this is different in hockey please lat me know. and also what scout do in the evaluation process.
     
  14. Vlad The Impaler

    Vlad The Impaler Registered User

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    Not IMO, although it always helps to have as many viewings as possible, tapes, live and even drills.

    I would also add that een interviews of the player are useful and have helped me in the past. The more you know the better.

    But if you want to see an important number of players, going to games live exclusively is going to make the process very difficult.

    I would also say that with enough TV viewings, you develop a sense for what's going on off camera. You start to get a feel for it and it helps a bit. But it' remains a different situation than live.

    As others have said, there are also advantages to TV viewings. You do what you can. In short:

    -See the player as much as possible
    -have a good feel for the league and environment he is in to properly assess his impact
    -See him against normal competition as well as tournaments if possible
    -Live games
    -TV
    -Drills
    -Interviews

    I try to use as much as possible. The more you view and the more you take into account, the better.

    But sometimes TV games is all you can work with and you have to do with that.
     
  15. Lard_Lad

    Lard_Lad Registered User

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    I'm curious about how you evaluate DB's and receivers via tape. The camera's going to be focused on the quarterback most of the time (just like the puck carrier in hockey), and except in the case of very short pass routes you can't see what they're doing unless the ball is thrown in their direction. Or are the tapes you use zoomed out more as opposed to what we'd see on a TV broadcast, so everything is visible?
     
  16. Gwyddbwyll

    Gwyddbwyll Registered User

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    Yes for their standard scout. But dont forget what the head scout does. He is reading all the reports they send back. I remember reading Vaughn Karpan (Coyotes head scout) describing what he does. He'll read over hundreds of scouting reports before heading out to see the prospects picked out by the scouts. With all the information and contacts they have, they'll have a pretty credible idea of how good a prospect is, without necessarily having seen him. For example, I know that Karpan hadnt seen much (if any at all) of Randall Gelech before taking him on a recommendation from Blair MacKasey (sp?) who was a coach involved in Canada's junior development. Gelech was the leading scorer in the first Pacific prospects tourney and has done very well for Kelowna.
     
  17. bigeasy

    bigeasy Registered User

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    with some high school tape it is hard because of poor quality. and sometimes it is impossible. an example of this is chad scott from the univ. of maryland one of the reasons chad did not get a division 1-A scholarship(he started at Div 1-AA towson st and transferred to maryland) was because of the poor tape that you could not see him on the tape so now one took a chance.

    at most colleges, and actually high schools, now the film shows all of that. the game tape is very different from the tv view. the sideline view shows everything from the db's to the runningback's and stays wider as it follows the ball. and you usaully have a second view that if from the side the focusing on the lb's to the rb's. it is tighter so you can see the lineman or you will take film from behind and only go as wide as the offensive line and tight end(almost every college does this now and alot of high school(i am in high school know and most of the teams we play take 2 views)

    i would imagine in the minor leagues they have excellent tape showing all of the players and seperate cam on the goalie even.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2004
  18. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    I have recieved a close circuit game tape before, and the camera is from a far perspective, and doesn't have the close ups like you see on t.v.

    Is that the kind of tape NFL scouts use? NHL scouts? Because that tape was the tape that I learned most about Steve Bernier with.
     
  19. Mizral

    Mizral Registered User

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    I should add when I say TV I am talking about live TV & tapes. I have several tapes of WHL games that I enjoy watching. I'm not as hardcore as some out there, and I've only once have been able to view tapes from overseas (I have several, but most don't work due to the type of TV's they have over there or whatever).
     
  20. Hockeycrazed07

    Hockeycrazed07 Registered User

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    I know that the Sharks' Director of Video Scouting is currently working on draft information for the scouting staff, and that he almost never sees any of the kids live. His job is to collect tapes from around the world and group them by prospect, giving a collection of good and bad moments for each of the kids. That way, the coaching staff here in SJ can work with the scouts to decide who (a) is the best player at a bracket in the draft, and (b) who would fit best with the Sharks. This helps SJ to decide where to trade up or down, using a variety of methods.

    Of course, this method leads to fairly safe drafting, which is one of my quarrels with SJ's scouting department. If they went on pure upside of more of their prospects, there might be more boom-or-bust kids like Nabokov, who was drafted on a flyer in the latter rounds of the draft. Of course, there would also be more busts. It takes all types, I find.

    ~Crazed.
     
  21. mowthecat

    mowthecat Registered User

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    If posters havent seen a prospect live and a minimum 3 times I dont even want to hear their opinion.Throw in that absolutely none are qualified as NHL scouts or "they'd be there doing that".

    Televison shows you jack but the players closest to the puck and its very hard to determine the subtleties that make up a good play. We dont see whats going on behind the play, in front of the play, or just away from the puck so whats the point?
     
  22. mowthecat

    mowthecat Registered User

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    Except most tapes are off the same as what we see on TV and follow the puck. Nt many are from cameras mounted above centre ice recording the entire ice surface. Therefore they dont tell the story well either.
     
  23. speeds

    speeds Registered User

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    I'm sure there are a couple people out floating about that would be great scouts, but don't have the necessary connections to get a job as an NHL scout.
     
  24. MojoJojo5000

    MojoJojo5000 Registered User

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    Tough to say; living in Maryland I don't see a lot of prospects except on tape or in Caps rookie camp. Hence my impartiality on the majority of the draft eligible prospects and infrequent posting.

    I don't agree with the "unless you've seen him three times you have no credibility" rule. I think you can tell talent or work ethic for the most part by watching on TV. Hockey sense and the other things like sticks in passing lanes, positioning, and play away from the puck are sometimes impossible because the camera typically follows the puck. Being able to rewind, etc can help you appriciate talent and see things that you miss, but I think the benefits of watching live far outweigh that.

    One big point I would like to make is that you really have to learn how to analyze players, it's a lot more difficult than just watching a hockey game. This is one thing that has taken me a while to learn (and I'm not there yet, I'm sure). A lot of people on here (especially the younger ones) tend to exaggerate information and opinions and base several statements off of a second hand report.

    I only really trust the opinions of a few people, steblick and turnbuckle are probably the most prominent posters, and much of their info is second hand. How you watch the game (better live, no doubt in my mind) is not nearly as important as how you think it.
     
  25. bigeasy

    bigeasy Registered User

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    tapes that scouts watch are in fact taken from high up(not right above) but high enough to see everything. and they may have several different cams in some of the places. these are the same coaches the caoches and the players watch
     
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