by Patrick Hoffman on 08/17/12 at 12:58 PM ET
One of the most interesting aspects of hockey operations is scouting.
I was lucky to conduct an e-mail interview with the Winnipeg Jets’ newest amateur scout Max Giese. Max was kind enough to take time out from his off-season schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got into and his experience in scouting as well as what he will be doing for the Jets.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
MG: I began playing hockey when I was four years old. My older brother played and the game instantly became my passion once I was introduced to it.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
MG: My favorite team was the San Jose Sharks. My favorite player was goaltender Arturs Irbe. I loved how he was a small, underdog type with big white pads and that old Jofa helmet.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey as a scout/talent evaluator/player personnel?
MG: I think the turning point was during the 2002-2003 season when the San Jose Sharks were expected to make a Stanley Cup run but instead they underachieved and ended up trading away their top players for prospects and draft picks. I began to research the prospects and the 2003 Draft class and that’s when I really became drawn to the scouting process.
PH: Who gave you your first job as a scout? What did you learn most from that experience?
MG: My first job came from the Janesville Jets in the NAHL. Their owner Bill McCoshen called me and wanted me to meet with their Head Coach Dane Litke. After the meeting they offered me their head scout position a few days later.
That year Dane was the only coach on staff and I was the only scout on staff, so I had to handle the scouting and recruiting pretty much on my own. Dane gave me his trust and that job really taught me how to be decisive on players and what it really means to be passionate about a player. It’s easy to say you like a player when nothing is on the line but when you’re building a team it’s completely different and you need to be sure you really believe in the player. I learned a lot that year about building a team and finding the right guys for specific roles and that character is vital.
I also learned that hockey is a business and even if a player is loaded with potential at some point they need to perform to maintain a roster spot.
PH: You recently worked with the Chicago Steel as Director of Player Personnel. Tell us what your roles were and how it helped you grow as a hockey scout/talent evaluator.
MG: I believe working for the Chicago Steel as their Director of Player Personnel was the turning point in my career up to this point. I was in charge of scouting, recruiting, and helping with trades and roster moves.
I learned a lot with Chicago while working with great coaches and being able to run the drafts was a huge developmental step for me as a scout. I sharpened my eye by watching the most hockey I ever have in my life. Character, passion for the game, and hockey sense became the key attributes I look for in players. The USHL is loaded with elite talent and it’s very competitive out on the road scouting and recruiting these players.
Working for Chicago reaffirmed my belief that scouts need a strong work ethic too and my goal during my time with the Steel was to outwork every other team in the league by watching the most players and games. I think we did a great job turning the organization around from a team which won 9 games in 2010-2011 to missing the playoffs by 3 points in 2011-2012, and the Steel should make a run at the USHL championship this year.
PH: You also recently spent some time in Sweden with College Hockey Sweden. What was the purpose of that program and how did you help out with it?
MG: Sweden was a blast. I was there representing the USHL and Chicago Steel during the event which allowed players in Sweden to get exposure to NCAA teams. I provided each player in attendance with a scouting report, was able to speak to the kids about the USHL and junior hockey in America, and I personally learned a lot about European hockey. It also gave me a good idea of what jet lag and culture shock is all about, so now I understand that teams need to be especially patient with import players coming over to North America.
PH: Tell us about some of the other leagues, publications, services that you helped out with in a hockey-related capacity.
MG: I was able to get my feet wet in the industry while working for McKeen’s Hockey and then in 2008 I was hired by Red Line Report. I learned a lot working for Kyle Woodlief and my time spent with Red Line taught me how to file concise but accurate and telling player reports. You only have so many words to express your opinion and projection on a player and each report was being published to be read by NHL teams, so that was a great learning tool for me.
Red Line also allows you to be opinionated and Kyle trusts what his scouts are telling him so I was able to go out on a limb for players and that’s what it’s all about. Throw away the consensus and trust your gut and the information you personally gathered on the player.
PH: This brings us to your new gig with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. What will you be doing for them?
MG: Working for Winnipeg is a dream come true and the entire staff has been extremely welcoming. I will be mostly covering the Mid-West U.S. including the USHL, NAHL, and Minnesota High School. I also plan to cross-over to New England and Massachusetts for EJHL and Prep Hockey.
The start of the season can’t come soon enough. I’ve worked very hard for this and have been very lucky to have a lot of great people support me along the way.
I look forward to learning a lot this year and I’m just going to keep working and working to find and file reports on the best prospects.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.