Good stick-handling and fast feet aren’t all it takes to impress the scouts, advises one of the NHL’s leading coaches for more than 30 years.
“Show your competitive instincts. Show your competitive side,” Pat Quinn said Tuesday.
“It’s easy to watch skills upstairs. It’s harder to pick up on the intangibles, the guys that can play a team concept, the guys that can compete in all situations, the guys that can adjust their game to what’s going on.”
Quinn and Mark Recchi are the two celebrity coaches for the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Feb. 1 in Kelowna, B.C., where 40 draft-eligible junior players will be playing for an audience that includes NHL scouts.
“Each kid comes in with his own skills,” said Quinn, who will coach Team Orr in the annual event that has been giving scouts a better look at players since 1996.
“Don’t try to overreach. Opportunities present themselves in this great game for outstanding play.”
Team Cherry coach Recchi said dealing with the pressure is another skill top players need to acquire.
“You’ve got to be able to push that aside and go play your game and do the things that make you successful,” he said.
“You’ve got to be able to embrace it and if you don’t you won’t play as well.”
Both said their role was largely honorary with top junior coaches handling most of what goes on the ice, although they will pass on their advice to their charges.
“It’s a little different than coaching my 10-year-olds,” quipped Recchi, a veteran right winger who called it quits after 22 years in the NHL when his last team, the Boston Bruins, won the Stanley Cup last year.
Quinn coached the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
In addition, he coached Team Canada to gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics, 2008 world under-18 championship and 2009 world junior championship.
Recchi is a native of Kamloops, B.C., and Quinn says he also feels like B.C. is home after his years behind the bench with the Canucks.
The 40 young players won’t be together long. The skills competition is Jan. 31 and the game is Feb. 1.
But Quinn said it’s a great opportunity for the players and scouts.
“Drafting used to be a guessing game,” he said.
“It’s best on best and really, since ’96, it’s been a great place to see kids challenge each other.”
Last year, 19 players from the 2011 Top Prospects were taken in the first round of the NHL draft including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers.
Three of the top players this year are Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting, Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Ramparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Ryan Murray of the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips.
There are 59 clubs in the Canadian Hockey League and thirty of them have players in the Top Prospects game.
Injuries have sidelined a couple who otherwise would likely have made the lineup — Alex Galenchuk of the Sting and Morgan Reilly of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.