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Combine continuing to grow

Sunday, 06.3.2012 / 11:45 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
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Combine continuing to grow
The NHL Scouting Combine certainly has come a long way since the days of fitness testing in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton hotel here.

TORONTO -- The NHL Scouting Combine certainly has come a long way since the days of fitness testing in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton hotel here.

That was evident this week when the 19th Combine was held at the Westin Bristol Place and Toronto International Centre.

The professionalism exhibited by the entire NHL Central Scouting staff, the maturity of the fresh-faced prospects and the heightened awareness of the event aided in the popularity of what now is considered one of the NHL's premier events leading up to the draft.

Through it all, however, there remained one constant -- the late E.J. McGuire still was very much in the minds and hearts of everyone in attendance.

McGuire, who served as Director of Central Scouting for seven years, died April 7, 2011, at age 58, following a five-month battle with Leiomyoscarcoma, a rare, incurable form of cancer. McGuire was the architect of many of the innovations Central Scouting pioneered in the past decade to achieve its mandate of providing the League's clubs with the most comprehensive list of NHL Draft-eligible prospects each season. The Combine was a major part of that process.

"The Combine was a near and dear event to E.J., and I think the staff just wants to carry on that spirit because it was such an important event," Central Scouting Director Dan Marr told NHL.com. "Everyone does their best on the Central Scouting staff to make sure that everything runs smoothly, particularly in our office with the work put in by Luke [McGoey] and Nathan [Ogilvie-Harris]. They do that so that E.J. would be proud."

Ogilvie-Harris is manager at Central Scouting, and McGoey serves as coordinator.

"I feel the event staff did a great job with the [fitness testing] setup and the room [at the Toronto International Centre] looked great," McGoey told NHL.com. "Each year we've been building a lot of momentum from the previous year. We had a tough time last year without E.J., but I think that kind of sparked the whole team to come through again this year and make it bigger and better.

"It's a big day for the players. This is a great prelude to the draft and there's a lot of good things that come out of the Combine each year."

The fitness testing was held at the Toronto International Centre for the first time. The setup proved to be everything McGuire would have hoped for.

"We had some weather issues, but there's nothing anyone can do about that with guys getting flights home, but this has been smooth," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "There's lots of space here and everyone seems happy and that's the main thing … making certain the teams we service are happy."

Long gone are the days of working out of a hotel basement with little media exposure and scarce resources. The NHL took the Combine to a whole new level this year and, in the process, didn't compromise the authenticity of the testing -- the primary reason this gathering took place.

"Another big piece I'm happy about is that more media was involved so there were more sit-down newspapers here and there was more buzz in the air," NHL Manager of Events Frank Macina said. "I think social media is our No. 1 asset. I've been looking at Twitter feeds all week and it's been great. Prospects and social media is an ally for the Combine and we want to make it as easy as possible, having them all come back with a smile on their face to promote this event."

This year's fitness testing venue was constructed in an 8,534-square-foot room, compared to 5,000-square-foot room used previously at the Westin Bristol Place, where interviews take place. Key sponsors for the event included Reebok, which outfitted the prospects head to toe, and Gatorade/G Series.

"Space-wise, [Toronto International Centre] has been great and the facility has been excited to have us," Macina said. "Unlike last year, the staff set up five VO2 Max bike tests as compared to only three in 2011 to help facilitate the process.

"Maybe we'll add more equipment next year to make it a faster day."

Thomas Meaney, NHL events manager, worked closely with Macina in the months leading up to and during the Combine. Jen Raimondi, senior manager of public relations, and information technology specialists Jack Gerien and John Ho also were critical in helping create a positive experience for everyone.

"All the players are far better prepared both for the interview process and the testing process [at the Combine] and I think that's evolved as the event has become more important," Marr said. "Everyone realizes that NHL teams are making a significant investment when they draft a player, so you get to find out a little more about the player when you get to meet him in the interview, and then get to find out their status with conditioning and fitness levels at this stage of their development."




1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


J. Voracek 75 21 53 7 74
C. Giroux 74 22 46 1 68
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 75 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 75 13 17 1 30
M. Read 73 7 22 -7 29
M. Del Zotto 57 9 19 -5 28
M. Raffl 60 19 6 6 25
V. Lecavalier 51 7 11 -10 18
S. Mason 15 17 10 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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