Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Lucky for me, Central Scouting doesn’t rank hockey bloggers

It’s a busy news week for hockey bloggers, what with the draft lottery and playoffs and all. For those of us who live in the same zip code as the NHL’s future in Portland, Oregon, one of the bigger news items was the release of the final draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting. After a season of being analyzed, scrutinized, evaluated and assessed, the cream of the junior hockey crop finally know where they stand. Among those lucky enough to secure a place on the list are five Portland Winterhawks: Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Joe Morrow, Tyler Wotherspoon and Pearce Eviston.  To make the cut, players are evaluated on a scale of “not applicable” to “excellent” for criteria that include skating, puck skills, competitiveness, physical play, hockey sense, defensive play and psychological factors. They are then classified as a power forward, skilled/offensive defenseman, skilled forward, reliable stay at home defenseman, and role player/checker. For goalies, it’s net coverage, quickness, rebound control, competitiveness, skills and psychological factors. It all adds up to one number that helps determine whether junior players will go on to live their dream of playing in the NHL. For four of the Portland Winterhawks, that number is in the top 40. Watching their future take shape made me nostalgic for my youth and the dreams I had at age 18. I don’t recall that any of them involved having every aspect of my person dissected for the purpose of being ranked on a list with elite athletes. But what if they did? What if life had a ranking system that determined whether we got that dream job, dream house, perfect spouse, whatever?

Hey look! A rule that explains itself: I was going to do a combined entry on the connection between the rankings and the draft lottery when I realized it’s not that complicated. There are 210 players on the draft ranking list, and 210 players will be chosen on draft day. It’s elementary, Dear Samantha. 

They must have known I was on the loose in the hockey blogosphere: NHL Central Scouting now makes their player checklists available for all to see.

So I will follow the fine example and make my checklist available for all to see: In my reality version of the rankings, I have devised a similar system, whereby everyday people are evaluated based on five life-relevant categories, which are graded on a points scale from negative 10 to plus 20. People with a point total of 80 to 100 or more would improve their chances of eventually having their dream house, dream job, perfect children, whatever, but this would be dependent on making smart life choices, not being influenced by the wrong people or substances, and luck.

Politeness: 
Talks on cell phones in inappropriate places: a) Yes. Negative 20 points. b) No. 10 points.

Holds door/gives up bus seat for honored citizens: a) Yes. 20 points. b) No. Negative 5 points.

Cuts ahead of people in the Starbucks line and/or steals their breakfast sandwiches*: a) Yes. Negative 15 points. b) No. 10 points.

Respect:
Understands that there are people who don’t like hockey and these people should still be respected because we treat others as we want to be treated ourselves: a) Yes. 20 points. b) No. 5 points.

Acknowledges that golf is an actual sport and not an excuse to wear ugly pants in front of strangers: a) Yes. 5 points. b) No. 0 points.

Fashion sense:
Looks in the mirror before leaving the house in the morning, checking to be sure shoes match the handbag, pants match the jacket and the hair has been brushed, blow dried or combed: a) Yes. 10 points. b) No. 0 points.

Knows that the following should never have been invented or worn in public by civilized, educated people: shoulder pads, white pantyhose, leg warmers, ponchos, bellbottoms, torn sweatshirts, acid washed jeans and jelly shoes. a) Yes. 20 points. b) No. Negative five points. c) Wore these items and actually thought they were fashionable: Negative 10 points. 

Driving skills:
Observes all proper laws and regulations of the state in which he or she resides, stopping for red lights, signaling for turns, checking and signaling before changing lanes, etc. Does not text or talk on cell phones while driving: a) Yes. 20 points. b) No. Negative 20 points.

Texts, talks on cell phone, does makeup, reads paper or other inappropriate activity while driving: a) Yes. Negative 20 points. b) No. 20 points.

Thinks that stop signs, red lights, Ped Xing signs, crosswalks, left turn arrows, do not enter, one way, no turn on red, bus only lanes, and do not change lanes on the bridge are merely guidelines that they only need to follow when not texting their best friend about how much more awesome that Subway sandwich is with swiss cheese on it: a) Yes. Negative 20 points. No. 20 points.

Being a good neighbor:
Allows dog to pee or go poo on the neighbor’s lawn and never cleans up after said dog, which they treat like a human being by feeding it filet mignon, making it wear sweaters in August, carrying it around in a $2000 handbag and taking it to doggie day care: a) Yes. Negative 15 points. b) No. 10 points.

Thinks that all neighbors would enjoy waking up at 3 am to listen to his or her Bon Jovi cover band’s rehearsal; a) Yes. Negative 15 points. b) No. 10 points.

Takes great care to follow commonly accepted “rules of the road” out of respect for their fellow suburbanites, such as no getting up at 6 am on a Sunday to power mow the lawn, no stealing your neighbor’s paper because hey, the paper boy missed his target and therefore you are within your right to read a free paper that lands on your lawn, and no backing out of driveway at high speed without first looking behind you for small children, furry animals (not including the dog/human mutant listed above) and early morning dog walkers: a) Yes. 15 points. b) No. Negative 5 points. 

Summary:

80 points or higher: An excellent ranking for promising individuals who show potential for rewarding, high paying careers such as doctors, lawyers, philanthropists or NHL General Managers. Dream house and dream job are highly likely.

65-79 points: A good ranking for someone who probably won’t ever get to the corner office, but will have a nice little life as a middle manager, a spouse who looks around but doesn’t actually cheat and a car that will still be in good enough shape to hand off to your teenager when they learn to drive.  Dream job may not quite be a reality, but chancs are good for a dream house and an honest, loyal spouse.

50 - 64 points: This individual requires a few refreshers on being a decent upstanding individual, but could make it through life with a wink and a smile. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Fewer than 50 points: Nice try, but the dream job, Barbie dream house and honest spouse ain’t gonna happen. Reboot the system, try again and you might get lucky the next time around.

Parting shots: The release of the draft rankings was bittersweet, with the passing of EJ McGuire. But his work, passion and commitment to hockey touched the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest this week when five Portland Winterhawks appeared on the list. And for that we are truly grateful. Changing gears, I’m sad to say that if I were ranked according to my own criteria I would not get the Barbie dream house and the corner office. Though I would do well on the politeness and respect (Sort of. I don’t understand people who don’t like hockey, but I do try to respect them. Emphasis on try.) and driving safety, I would fall far short on the fashion side. On my very first day living and working in New York City—the fashion capital of the world—I went tromping off to work in the following ensemble: a forest green suit with a maroon blouse (with shoulder pads), matching suede heels and forest green pantyhose. And I topped it off with a forest green trench coat (with shoulder pads). I looked exactly like a human version of a pimento-stuffed olive. I have no excuse. Double negative points for me. Period. No exceptions.

* Yes, this happened to me. Dude didn’t even stop walking. Just kept yapping on his cell phone, grabbed my classic sausage, egg and cheese sandwich right off the counter in front of me and kept walking out the door.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com