Custom Search

My first job as a Montreal Canadiens hockey “scout” in 1968

In 1968, when I was 14, I attended Assumption High School in Windsor, Ontario. I lived in a rural area about half an hour from the high school that is located near the University of Windsor. Home was Essex County, specifically a small town called River Canard.

In the summer I played for a baseball team that competed in the “Billy Rogell” league in Detroit. (Rogell was a former standout player with the Detroit Tigers.) Our team, coached by a local legend, Fr. Ron Cullen, was made up primarily of players from attended Assumption.

(A side note—I played with many talented guys in those days, including a few teammates who went on to play professional sports. Catcher Eddie Mio later became a long-time NHL goalie. Shortstop Bruce Walker played in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders, and John Palazeti, after earning a football scholarship in the U.S., also played for a few teams in the CFL, winning a Grey Cup before his retirement with the Toronto Argonauts.)

Though he was busy on our farm, my Dad would sometimes drive me to—and pick me up from—baseball practices. I was playing for two Assumption teams, one played in what was called “Class F” in Windsor, the other the Rogell under-16 league in Detroit.

But I would also sometimes hitch-hike to Assumption, where we practiced on the old fields located far back of the school on Huron Line, in Windsor.

I experienced many eventful hitchhike rides over those years in the mid-1960s. It was a safer time, thankfully. I had some great conversations, a couple of rides who drove way too fast even for my liking, but I always got to the school in time for practices, which started at 8:30 every Saturday morning.

One ride I recall in particular was the day I was picked up by a nice fellow who passed by our house on Front Road (called Highway 18) on his way to Windsor. He asked me about my baseball activities, and shared with me that he was a hockey scout.

To prove his point, he gave me his business card.

Whether he was impressed with my level of sports knowledge or just making conversation, I’m not quite sure, but as he dropped me off at school he asked me to give him a call if I ever saw a hockey player who looked out of the ordinary.

This was my first introduction to what way back then would have been called a “bird dog”—that is, a hockey or baseball scout who was not a fulltime scout, but who would do some work for pro teams who simply didn’t have the budget or personnel to cover the smaller outposts of the sports world. These were the days before what we now call the “entry” draft. Teams tried to sign players from their early teen years, because they could keep their rights basically forever.

There were no doubt many “bird dogs” out there, looking for talent, and passing their cards off to anyone they thought could give them a lead.

In any event, it was exciting stuff for a 14 year-old.

In truth, I never contacted the gentleman, probably because I never quite understood how the relationship would work, and I was likely a bit shy to pick up the phone, even if I did see a really good young player in my travels. But I was quietly thrilled to have been offered such a “job”.

The gentleman’s name was Paul Goulet. He was from Brantford, Ontario- coincidentally, we would all find out in later years, the home of Wayne Gretzky. I remember the name because to this day, I have kept his business card, which carried the symbol of the Montreal Canadiens on the card. That in itself impressed –and intimidated—a young teenager who loved hockey.

No comments:

Post a Comment