I often admit to a certain level of ignorance when it comes to the nuances of professional sports. The 2012 NHL Draft was the first professional sports draft I ever watched. When the Boston Bruins picked Malcolm Subban in the first round, I had to ask a few other hockey fans (hockey guru was on vacation) why the Bruins would recruit such young players whose potential were at best (in my opinion) a maybe? The general response was “They’re planning for the long game.”.
So I took a look at the ‘long game’. Some of the first round picks, like Tyler Seguin were practically catapulted into the NHL. Other players went to the AHL affiliates, while others played in minor leagues or Europe. Taking a closer look at some of the drafts in past years, I was noticing that some of these players never played a single NHL game in their careers. Once again, I had to ask if it was an incredible risk to make that kind of investment that could very likely lead nowhere?
I started to dig through the material produced the last few weeks since the draft and the Bruins’ sixth annual development camp. Players and prospects offered their opinions on their big draft days and how they though the camps went. Of all the quips and quotes offered by all the Bruins personnel, the words of Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney made the most amount of sense in summing up the Bruins’ ‘long game’ plan.
“Well clearly you need to philosophically stick to a homegrown plan.” commented Sweeney “They’re not finished products when you first draft them. Drafting and developing players is the lifeline of the National Hockey League in general. I think you devote an awful lot of time to identifying these players and obviously going through the development process.”
OK, this makes sense. It wasn’t an exact science. The scouts had to find the players. The potential and the talent had to be measured as if it was a tangible substance. The scouts would go to management and report their findings. “You see a need, you go out and try to identify it whether or not a player can grow in fulfill that role.” continued Sweeney.
Well, that light in my head just came on. I really didn’t understand how much the Bruins staff could measure the potential of prospects in less than a week. Now it was dawning on me. The long game made sense now. Well, let’s all hope the Bruins plans come to fruition when they rescue Lord Stanley’s Cup from Los Angeles. (The Cup has been rumored to say that it doesn’t like the west coast weather.).