JuniorHockey.com continues the "Five Questions With" series with the Buffalo Sabre's pro scout and assistant coach Eric Weinrich.
The focus of this series is to help prospects better understand the thoughts and advice of hockey's top coaches regarding recruitment. The series asks the same set of questions to each coach.
Eric Weinrich was born in Roanoke, Virginia and grew-up in Gardiner, Maine. He played high school varsity hockey at North Yarmouth Academy and then with the University of Maine at Orono - Black Bears. Eric started his international hockey career playing for the United States at the 1985 and 1986 World Junior Championships. He later represented the United States at the 1991 Canada Cup, the 2004 World Cup, and the World Championships of 1991, 1993, 1997-2002, and 2004.
Eric began his NHL career after the 1988 Olympics with the New Jersey Devils after being drafted in the second round, thirty two overall, in the 1985 NHL draft. Eric played eighteen seasons in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, Chicago Black Hawks, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, and ended his NHL career in 2006 with the Vancouver Canucks. Eric was the first American born player to captain the Montreal Canadiens. He appeared in 1,157 NHL games, scoring 388 points as a tough, defense-minded defenseman.
Weinrich was an assistant coach with both the NHL's Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres for the past six seasons. Eric currently is a pro scout and player personnel expert with the NHL's Buffalo Sabre's.
Eric recently took time-out to talk with JuniorHockey.com's Kevin Cady.
KC: Did you play junior hockey? What was your favorite memory from that experience?
EW: No. I was fortunate to be drafted by the New Jersey Devils during my senior year of high school (85') and played NCAA Division 1 hockey with the University of Maine Black Bears.
KC: How important is a prospect's academic performance to the college recruitment selection process?
EW: Academics are as important to a players overall package as hockey skills. The better the players G.P.A is the more closely a D-1 or D-3 coach will look at a prospect. A player with a high G.P.A. has two times the choices for program opportunities than an outstanding player with an average G.P.A.
KC: There are nearly 200 junior teams in the United States, so it must be all but impossible to see them. How can a player from a lower level team get your attention?
EW: There are two ways. The first is for the players coach to contact the coach or scout directly. The second way is to send the coach or scout a video that emphasizes the players' strengths.
The video way is more the way it goes today in hockey. Many kids are drafted by NHL teams and scouts have never seen the kid play. The only contact the scout has had with the player is by watching videos of the player. The same goes with college recruitment.
KC: How proactive should the prospect be in the recruiting process?
EW: Initial correspondence and initiation by the prospect player to a coach or scout is well worth a players while. Being persistent is okay. But then word-of-mouth usually takes over. If the prospect has the skill to play at a high level he is usually known by other scouts. Scouts talk all the time about players.
KC: Imagine there are all 5,000 junior hockey players sitting in an auditorium and you have just been handed the microphone, what do you want to say to them?
EW: If you haven't heard from a school or received letters of interest, don't give-up your dream! I know kids who have found ways to make-it to top D-1 programs and even the NHL that were never recruited. In many cases it's up to the kid to sell him or herself to get to the next level.
Actually, a program like JuniorHockey.com's A-List profile is an excellent tool for prospects in keeping NHL scouts and perspective D-1 and D-3 coaches abreast of your skill set and game stats.