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Mike MacPherson's Blog: Scouting in the ECHL

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Derek Clancey coached in the ECHL before going behind the bench as an assistant with the the Manchester Monarchs the 2005-06 season. (Photo by LisaMeyer/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Mike MacPherson's Blog: Scouting in the ECHL

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When you take on the position of a minor league scout, it can sometimes lead you to learn about more than just the scouting role.

For the past nine years, I have had the opportunity to learn many of the roles associated with building successful ECHL rosters.

When I started back in 1999, I was fortunate to work with Derek Clancey in Jackson, Miss. Derek was in charge of hockey operations for the ECHL’s Jackson Bandits and allowed me to take on more responsibility than just scouting.

Since we knew each other in university and my background was in Sports Administration, Derek gave me the opportunity to learn the ropes of the ECHL. This included contract negotiations, learning about salaries and dealing with agents. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Derek. Our paths would cross again when I went to Roanoke and later, during my days in Reading.

When I moved to Phoenix, where I now work for the RoadRunners, I was able to assist in these roles. Derek now works for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their pro scouting department. He has been a great influence on me and I have learned a great deal from him

Having worked in the ECHL for nine years gaining valuable experience, I was given the opportunity to work with rookie coaches Karl Taylor (Ontario Reign) and Brad Church (Phoenix RoadRunners). More recently, I had the chance to sit down and chat with new Reading head coach Jason Nobili, as he begins his first season in the ECHL.

The role of coach in the ECHL is one that can encompass many different things. Depending on the relationship you may have with your American League/NHL affiliates, much of your time in the off–season is spent doing the following: networking with the enormous list of agents from the NHLPA and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, tracking down phone numbers, putting together lists of potential prospects, arranging and filing for immigration for players who are not U.S. citizens, arranging travel and the list goes on.

In some ways, ECHL coaches play the role of an entire hockey operations department, so I was able to assist these rookie coaches as they made their transition.

I must give a great deal of thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks’ director of player evaluation, Al MacIsaac. Al encouraged me to accept the opportunity to work with his AHL team and the affiliate in Jackson. As well, he allowed me to continue that relationship with Norfolk and Roanoke.

Al is one of the most solid citizens the NHL has and is a man of great integrity. I have learned a lot from Al and the way he handles relationships. I think he will make a great NHL GM when the time arrives.

Mike MacPherson began scouting in 1999 for the Chicago Blackhawks and was responsible for the ECHL. He is currently the director of scouting for the Phoenix Roadrunners, NHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks and also scouts the OHL for the International Scouting Service. MacPherson also coaches in the OMHA within Guelph minor hockey. 

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Mike MacPherson's Blog: Scouting in the ECHL