by PuckStopsHere on 05/31/13 at 08:12 PM ET
In hockey starved Canada, TSN just finished airing a show about the scouting combine that is underway. It is the second straight night without an NHL game and something must fill the demand for hockey. 101 top prospects who are eligible for the 2013 Entry Draft were invited. For players about to be selected in the draft this is a very important event. Everybody wants to move up in the draft and nobody wants to backslide. There are large amounts of money on the line as players who are drafted earlier in the draft sign larger contracts. As a result there are players who have been training hard since their season ended, in some cases two months ago, in order to impress here.
The problem is most of the scouting combine doesn't matter. It really shouldn't change draft order to see that one player can ride a little faster on a stationary bicycle than another player. Of all the things scouts take into account when ranking players, that shouldn't be too high on their lists. In fact most teams claim to be most interested in interviewing players. Even the interviews won't change much. In the worst case imagine that Seth Jones decided he would only answer questions with farts, do you think he wouldn't remain a top pick anyway?
Young hockey players have more and more demands on their time. They may play as many as 100 games. They may be involved in the top prospects game, world junior championships, under 17 championships, the Subway Super Series etc. Hockey is a full time job and these players are still teenagers. Some players burn out. Some players suffer injury as a result of their overwork. In an effort to counteract this, the AHL has reduced the length of their season and playoffs.
The NHL would be better served by reducing the time demands on junior players to let them live more rounded lives. The scouting combine is one of the first things that could go. Does it really serve a purpose? How much does it change draft orders?
Bobby Orr once said that the first time he ever attended a hockey school he was a pro and was coaching at it. It didn't hurt him. The demands on junior players have become excessive and the scouting combine would be a good thing to get rid of in order to reduce them. Players spend two months or more preparing for something that does not have any significant effect on their futures. It is unnecessary.
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