It was during the 2008-09 season that, at my urging and suggestion, Detroit Red Wings scout Dave Kolb paid a visit to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for the sole purpose of taking a look at 6-foot-6 centre Adam Phillips of the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
I sat with Kolb as we watched Phillips and the Eagles play a Sunday afternoon game at Pullar Stadium. And the National Hockey League scout remarked how pleasantly surprised if he was with, not only the calibre of play in the NOJHL, but with Phillips as a player and the overall atmosphere of the venerable Pullar.
Kolb told me straight up -- and without being asked -- that the trip to the Michigan Soo "was definitely worth it" and that should Phillips eventually move up to the National Collegiate Athletic Association level, he would keep track of him.
Like a good scout should, Kolb opened a file on Phillips. And just the other day, three years later, I got an e-mail from Kolb telling me that he had recently watched Phillips play for UMass-Amherst, which is a Division 1, Hockey East school.
A 1990 birth year, Phillips is no longer a centre -- he now plays defence -- and is in his second season at UMass. The Farmington Hills, Michigan native now weighs 195 lbs. and as Kolb remarked to me, "he's starting to grow into that big body of his." Kolb added that Phillips needs to play with more of an edge and concluded our exchange by saying the big defenceman is in line for a "possible NHL tryout" when his NCAA playing days are over.
To me, this is just one, mere example of why the Red Wings have been such a successful NHL franchise for so many years running: they have scouts like Kolb who leave no stone unturned as they seek out and then keep track of even the players who are borderline prospects.
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