Legitimate Excuse for Failure: #3

Excuse # 3 – The scouts never saw me and I was overlooked.

THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES of NHL players who made it in spite of being overlooked in the NHL and in some cases the Major Junior Draft. Clearly scouting is not an exact science and many athletes are overlooked. But this is not an excuse rather another can of gas to fuel your desire.

I was not drafted to the OHL when I was draft eligible because all the press fell in love with guys like Jeff Hackett and others.

As a junior B player, I knew I was better than Hackett but still the scouts ignored me. I was so upset that the London Knights didn’t draft me that I called their coach every day begging to let me come out to their practices to show them what I could do. They wouldn’t invite me so I showed up anyway at practice at the old London Gardens and got dressed in a bathroom. I attempted to sneak out on the ice but the coach refused and man-handled me out of the player’s bench. That coach is now a good friend of mine and I see him frequently as we are both NHL scouts now. At the time however I was shaking with rage.

I went straight home to Strathroy and began doing my hill sprints until I collapsed.

While playing Junior B in Strathroy Mitch Korn from Miami University attended one of my games and was looking at offering a full scholarship to Jeff Hackett who had left Oshawa and come back to London. In this first viewing he witnessed me allow 7 goals but he must have saw something as he spoke to me after the game.

My next game was the Western Junior B All Star game, which were not normally defensive gems in the 80’s. I was scheduled to play the first half of the game and ironically at the other end was Mr.Hackett. I allowed the first shot on goal to go in and it was at this point you find out what you are made of. I proceeded to stop the next 29 shots in my half of the game and after the game I was offered a full ride to Miami University.

Scouts will see you and will hear about you if you are playing well at an appropriate level. If you dominate at the midget level you will play junior somewhere and so on up the hockey ladder.

If you aren’t playing at the highest level you can be, find out what is wrong with your game and fix it. Don’t succumb to the common excuses for failure. If you ask any of the guys in the beer leagues this question I firmly believe I know what the honest answer is.

“If you had it to do over again, could you have done anything differently?”

If you did everything humanly and honestly possible to make the NHL you are left with the only acceptable excuse for failure. You weren’t good enough.

It is a blow to our egos when we accept this but the reality is we are not all good enough. Not being good enough is a victory at some level if it exists in your world after all measures have been taken and all excuses ignored and overcome. Now you can hold your head high and look in the mirror.

My Doubter’s Diary

From this article you may begin to sense my burning hatred of those that doubted me and my abilities. I wanted to make it more to prove people wrong than to make it for the sake of making it. No one could then and no one can today tell me I wasn’t good enough to play in the NHL. One of the key motivational tools I used and still have today is my Doubter’s Diary. In this binder I have written down the comments and names of EVERY person who has ever indicated that I wouldn’t make the NHL. It is quite ragged as you could imagine and has over a dozen pages. Everyone in this book has received a call or a visit after I made the NHL to “thank them” for motivating me. The people who doubted me ranged from coaches to GM’s to teammates. I will share with you my favorite one and the one who received my first phone call at 10:48 EST on December 5, 1990.

During Second Grade we had a chance to tell Ms. McNeil what we were going to be when we grew up. This of course is common in all schools.

“I will play in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stevie McKichan” The original words printed out quite messily with a dull large primary pencil.

Ms. McNeil’s comments appear in red pen immediately below.

“That will most likely never happen. You need to pick something possible like a firefighter, police officer or teacher.”


Copyright © 2008 Steve McKichen. Originally published on www.futurepro.com.

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