Calgary interviews key component to combine

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 2:57 PM
Aaron Vickers  - (@aavickers)

CALGARY, AB -- Before select members of the 2013 NHL Draft had the chance to be put through the paces in the physical component of the NHL Scouting Combine, the Calgary Flames and 29 other teams had the chance to drain them mentally.

John Weisbrod and the Flames took full advantage of the opportunity.

"That's something we've really expanded," said before the combine. "This year, for example we're going to interview a whole bunch more guys at the combine in Toronto than we ever have before. I put a lot of value in that sitting and looking in a guy's eyes and asking him questions."

Quickly becoming an integral part of scouting, the interviews gave Calgary the opportunity to dig deeper into the prospects they've been watching all season.

And that information can be invaluable, according to Tod Button, Calgary's director of amateur scouting.

"The interview process can tip you off to a lot of different things," he said. "It can send you on a different direction that you never thought of as far as information gathering. It gives information about a player you didn't know about. It gives you a lot of information about the player you're trying to investigate. It's a very deep process. It's not one question or two questions you ask. You go into a lot of different tangents and you follow a lot of different leads, so to speak, from what you get from that information."

It's what happens after the brief meeting that's equally as important.

"Basically the interview process at the combine, all that does is put you on a path to dig deeper on certain areas," Button said. "You only get 15 minutes with the kid and I don't think anybody can really get a good feel deep down inside of what a kid's made of in 15 minutes. The overall interview process, very important. The combine interview process is just a starter to get a bigger, broader base of the kid."

That's not to say Weisbrod, Button and the rest of Calgary's executive staff are trying to unearth psychological philosophies in the half of a half-hour with each prospect.

In fact, it's quite the opposite, according to Button.

"We're not trying to get into the kid's head. We're aware that the kids are well prepared," he said. "It's more of a give-and-take with us. We want to make the kid comfortable."

With an increasing importance on appearances and answers at the combine, it's becoming increasingly difficult to break down the wall between a perceived 'right' answer and an honest, heartfelt response.

With prepared, rehearsed and canned answers, the job of interviewing can become a difficult task.

"It affects it in a negative way," Weisbrod said. "You know pretty quickly when you're sitting with someone that's reciting his lines versus someone that's just 'what do you want to know' and real nature and real open and obviously you have to take that into account when you evaluate what's happened in the room."

But once the kids are comfortable, it becomes easier for teams to familiarize themselves with the player across the table.

"Once the kids are loosened up, they're very good at telling you how they really feel," Button said.

And that's when the information starts to flow.

"There's a lot of information you can gather about the kid, his intangibles, how he sees the game, how he sees himself and how he presents himself to you," Button said. "The bottom line in any interview process is the players are looking to put their best foot forward. It's a job interview for them."

The first step to landing the career of their dreams.

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