I’m very excited to introduce Eddie Olczyk. Currently Eddie is the assistant coach at Utica College, he also played Division One hockey at Umass – Amherst and Minor Pro hockey. Eddie is going to go through the types of attributes top recruiters look for when scouting players. Enter Eddie….
Recruiting: What I Look For In A Player
As a former player, and now current Assistant Coach with Utica College, there are three key things I have noticed that have always remained constant amongst players who truly want to win: Compete, Character, and Commitment. When I head on the road to recruit, there are a few things I usually do before watching a team for the first time during their season. I use an online database to look up which players traditionally have had the ability to put up points. I also see if I have previously marked any one individual player in my notes from watching them in years past, and I also reach out to the coaches of both teams before the start of the game. Talking to the coaches allows me to see how they believe their team is going to be, or how well their team has been playing as of late. It also gives me a chance to pick their brains about which players may be of interest to me, and what type of players they are. In the next few paragraphs I will give you a better sense of what I specifically look for in a player from a recruiting standpoint; The 3 C’s. Hopefully this will help you ask yourself the question, “Am I doing everything that I possibly can to be the best hockey player and person I can be?”
COMPETE: When watching a game it’s not overly hard to tell who is competing and who is waiting for someone else to get to the hard areas and create opportunities for their teammates. A player has to be willing to pay the price for the greater good of the team. Are they doing things that other players are unwilling to do? Do they block shots? Do they go stick on puck all over the ice? Do they have a swivel head when backchecking, and do they look to pick up an opposing offensive player? Are they committed to playing their position in the defensive zone? Are they physical when they need to be? Do they possess pucks on walls and below the goal line, instead of throwing pucks away into the slot blindly? Do they move their feet and drive the net hard as F2 on a 3 on 2 offensive zone rush? As a goaltender, do they give up on second and third chance opportunities, or do they challenge themselves to make the save? Are they giving all of themselves in games that are not going in their team’s favor? These are all situations that have the tendency to occur on a game-to-game basis, and they are big time determinants of whether or not a player has the hockey sense and IQ to play at the next level.
CHARACTER: After watching a player play and being excited about the potential in the individual’s ability, the first question I ask the coach when I follow up with them is, “What type of kid are they?” You can be a great hockey player, but if your character doesn’t reflect your playing ability, then there’s a pretty good chance I will not be asking you to come play for my school. A player’s character can be judged on and off the ice. When the coach calls them off the ice during a powerplay or twenty seconds into a shift, does the player hang their head, or show frustration when they return to the bench? Does the player have the ability to be engaged and ask educated questions during the conversation you have with them in person or on the phone? Are they actively involved with the community participating in a number of different community outreach events to benefit a cause or individual? Are they a positive influence in the locker room? Are they the type of player who their peers can go to for advice, not only on the ice, but with different life situations as well? Character has a huge influence on a team over the course of a season, and if you want to create a winning culture it is necessary to comprise your team of individuals who possess good character. In terms of actual recruiting, character plays a significant role in the process. I firmly believe that a player who may be less skilled, but works extremely hard and does all the right things on and off the ice, has a significant upper hand over the player who puts up a ton of points, but is only consumed with themselves as opposed to the overall team’s success.
COMMITMENT: They way the game is played today, if you want to be a successful hockey player it requires a 100% effort and commitment from every possible angle. Having the commitment to better oneself as a hockey player says a lot about the individual as a person. Does the player get out early before practice starts to work on their weaknesses? Are they committed to taking advantage of everything the coaching staff has to offer them to succeed? These are things that recruiters take into consideration with all players they are interested in. I’m a big believer in watching video of your own play. Players have the tendency to think they’ve played a certain way during a game, based on their total ice time, points, and situational play, and this is why video can be so effective. A player who is serious about taking the next step in their game has the ability to sit down and watch their shifts from a game, regardless of how they played, and criticize themselves positively or negatively. Players forget that they can too also be their greatest teacher. Strength training and being in shape is expected at the collegiate level. I want players who take their off ice training just as seriously as they take their on ice. Strength training and injury prevention go hand in hand, and you are doing your self a disservice by not getting after it in the gym. Is the player committed to taking care of their body all of the time? To improve as a player and to be able to give all of yourself on an everyday basis requires a total commitment nutritionally, as well as by way of the choices we make. I want a player who has the ability to get their homework done between classes, or right after dinner, as opposed to procrastinating playing video games all night and depriving themselves of that few extra hours of sleep. Doing well in the classroom and taking pride in your studies is huge. Without a solid set of grades you limit yourself to the number of potential schools that will take interest in you as a prospective student athlete. What separates good players from great players is a 24/7 mentality to do everything that it possibly takes to reach their goal. It takes more than just wishing to make it to the next step, or saying that you will. Without sacrifice, there is no destination. I want players who are willing to do the things listed above, because they love the game of hockey and are serious about getting a great education.
If you have any questions for Eddie, please comment below.