To say that the BCHL Showcase offered maximum exposure of the players to scouts is like saying the ocean is a little wet. Sunday evening during a wrap up tweet the BCHL (@bchllive) indicated that "around 200" scouts attended the event. While I cannot confirm the number, it sounds reasonable given the length of the meal line every day!
Results - By the time the dust settled on the 3 day event, each team had played their first 2 regular season games. Four of the sixteen teams went 2-0 and earned 4 points. They included West Kelowna, Penticton, Coquitlam and Prince George. Those that were unable to secure a point were Salmon Arm and Trail. Point-wise, everyone else fell somewhere in between.
Opinions - Ask anyone in attendance at the event about whether or not a "Showcase" is a good idea and the opinions will be as varied as the scores. Fans I talked to love the idea. Coaches, on the other hand, agreed that it was great for the players, but were also quick to point out some things that make it less appealing. Issues like the tight schedule between games and the fact that only one team has a "true" opening night in front of home fans was mentioned.
Scouts - All the Scouts I talked with agreed that the Showcase is the way to go. Given financial and travel considerations, the ability to early identify those to watch now makes more sense than ever. It was busy; grabbing line-up sheets prior to games, setting up reports and then watching the players. With the game start times staggered between the 2 sheets of ice, the hockey was practically non-stop from noon until late evening. At times, it felt like a marathon! Of course, it also gave the Scouts a chance to get together, talk hockey and even have a little fun. Conversations covered ever topic and was often "colourful." Rumor has it that one prankster arranged to have an exaggerated happy birthday announced and displayed on the main score clock for another scout, even though it wasn't even his birthday!
Aftermath - In the end, I believe the first BCHL Showcase can be declared a success. Of course, some numbers need to be worked out and a final tally obtained to give a true measure. Yes, some teams will proceed home with their heads held high, others not so much. Players may wonder if they did enough or should have done more. But when the schools start calling and the NHL draft announces its selections next year - the real evidence will surface.
The BCHL Showcase event took place at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack, 7th to 9th September. Visit www.BCHL.ca for more information.