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NHL Evaluation Camp |  In the Canadians interview room

NHL Evaluation Camp | In the Canadians interview room

(Buffalo) Michael Hagg had a certain idea what awaited him in the KeyBank Center locker room as the Canadian was conducting his interviews. After all, word was starting to spread. For several years now, Montreal has systematically asked players to name the animal they are on and off the ice.


But Haag, an Ontario native of Quebecois descent who plays for the Chicago Steel, didn't expect that.

Al-Hajj said in an interview with, “The psychologist gave me role-playing.” Journalism Friday. We're at the hotel, and we're playing at Madison Square Garden the next day. Your roommate decides to go out at 11pm and comes home at 3am. The next day, Martin St-Louis asks you if it's true that your roommate came home at 3 a.m. »

Hajj thought.

-I do not condemn him.

-So you don't want to get rid of people who don't want to win? – said one of the CH hockey players in the room.

– He's my teammate, and maybe I'll talk to him to get him back on the right path. But if it doesn't change, maybe my answer will change.

Al-Hajj seemed rather proud of his accomplishment as he told us the story. “I think they liked my answer. If you said when you left that you were reporting on your teammate, they would accuse you of being a spy.”

Drs Dave Scott, a psychology consultant, has been known for several years for questions like the one the Habs conducted at the NHL Evaluation Camp, held again this year in Buffalo. The players surveyed did not mention him by name, but rather they all mentioned the “doctor” or “psychiatrist” in the room.

Photo by Martin Chamberland, Press Archive

Canadian amateur recruiting director, Martin Lapointe

Furthermore, the CH staff members who attended the interviews varied from player to player. Martin Lapointe, the amateur recruiting director, was systematically named as present in the room. Some recognized Nick Bobroff, associate director of amateur recruiting. Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton? It all depends on the time of the week, since they leave town in the middle of the week. John Sedgwick, Deputy Director General, also attended these meetings. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive.

Fantasy battle with Xhekaj

Photo: Guillaume Lefranois, Press

Sasha Boisvert

Sasha Boisvert was also treated to a fantasy scenario.

“At first, the questions focused on your family,” says the Trois-Rivières resident, who is seen as a possible choice for one.any Tour this year. Then Mr. Lapointe gave me a role to play with Arber Chicaj. In practice, you had five puck battles against him, and you won the first four. Then he comes to you and says: Let me win the fifth. »

“I'm a competitor, there's no chance I'll let him win,” Boisvert replied.

– Well, the next day, you have a match against him. What do you think he does?

– He asks me to fight.

– What are you saying ?

-I have no choice but to fight him, it doesn't bother me!

So Boisvert, famous for his love of a difficult game, gave an answer that befits the type of player he is. “Then the other guy in the room was bullying me, looking at me with this intense look to see if I was going to break down. I kept my game face on.

“They were trying to be tough, to intimidate. I liked that, it was a different challenge from other teams.

AJ Spellacy, an American member of the Windsor Spitfires, says he was primarily interviewed by Martin Lapointe. But the “psychiatrist,” as he put it, also intervened.

He asked me: You are on a plane and the pilot asks you if you would rather he land successfully or do his best. You said that if he tried his best, he would go down. That's why he's a pilot!

AJ Spell

No one appeared to be unduly shocked by the exercise, although many players seemed to enjoy the experience. Many of these prospects have been interviewed by more than 20 teams; Michael Haj met 31 players. In these circumstances, these players don't say no to a little variety.

“It stood out from the other teams and it was fun,” said Sam Dickinson, a standout defender for the 2024 World Cup. “They are good at seeing how you react to pressure and whether you change your reaction.” »

Berkeley Caton, a forward projected to be in the top 10, believes the Tribes stand out above all else “by asking yourself why”. “It's easy to give an answer, but not justify it. How do we know you're telling the truth? I really liked this interview.”

Artyom Levshunov, a Belarusian with a very strong personality, used fire against fire. “After one of my answers, they asked me to justify myself, so I said: What do you think? » This may explain why one Montreal staff member described us as “a wonderful character.”

Ultimately, these interviews conducted by the CH team are only one element of a complex evaluation process that will lead to the formulation of the draft within three weeks. Obviously the work done by recruiters during the season and interviews with youth coaches is of great importance.

The physical tests that hopefuls underwent on Saturday provide another element. Lapointe, Bobrov, Billy Ryan (Director of Player Evaluation and Amateur Scouting) and Dale LeBlanz (Strength Coach) were seen at the scene.

Avalanche games

However, Montreal did not have a monopoly on unusual matters.

Colorado Avalanche interviews also received attention. For several years, the former Nordiques have had the distinction of inviting hopefuls to participate in matches throughout the meet.

For example, Spencer Gill was invited to a game in which the goal was to shoot small pucks using an elastic band. “You can choose who to play against from their crew and they will show you the rankings. I chose to face the boss. You have to play for one person, so I chose the last one.”

The Avalanche also tried to corner Gill, asking him how he would stack up against Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, but more importantly, what he would say to veteran Andrew Cogliano to help him improve. “I just said I could help him by pushing him in training. He's been playing in the league for 16 years. I'm not going to give him things! Just pushing him is the best answer. »

Two possibilities brought back a question from the Predators: If you were in the military, would you be a pilot, medic or sniper?

Finally, Zain Parekh was asked about his rider rating on the Uber app. The good prince, he didn't want to introduce the team, but it looks like the question came from Utah.

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