It can be a time consuming job as a nightly gig that also includes morning and afternoon assignments on the weekend. But passion and perseverance lies within the pores of the average Ontario Hockey League scout.
And it is not as though the job is financial rewarding. Being a regional scout for an OHL team is a part time gig — and the pay probably does not match the hours that are put into the job.
Still, there are 20 teams in the OHL who combine to employ about 175 or so scouts who put in a lot of time, travel and effort for a part time job that is in addition to their regular full time careers.
Perennial powerhouse London Knights are just one example of an OHL team that puts a lot of resources into scouting and data collecting. No less than 10 regional scouts report to London general manager (and part owner) Mark Hunter and associate GM Rob Simpson, who both do a lot of scouting in addition to their full-time managerial duties with the Knights.
The Knights are covered from one end of the province to the other with, for example, Brendan Ross in southwestern Ontario and Steve Warner in northeastern Ontario.
Both, of course, have day jobs — Ross is an educator and Warner is in financial management.
London also relies heavily on Pittsburgh-based scout Billy Sullivan for input on American-born players. For example, the Knights took five players from various teams under the USA Hockey umbrella at the recent 2020 OHL priority selections draft.
At any rate, the good scout is the one who not only works hard and is thorough but gets to know as much as he can about an individual player and does not base his evaluation entirely on numbers and statistics.
Being well connected with a lengthy background in the game also helps.
One such individual is 60-year old Jeff Twohey. And not only is Twohey an asset to the Kingston Frontenacs as an advisor to general manager Darren Keily but he is a credit to the OHL.
Twohey has more than 600 regular seasons wins as a GM with both the Peterborough Petes and Oshawa Generals while also being a part of four OHL championship teams.
He also spent four seasons as assistant director of amateur scouting for the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League before joining Kingston prior to the 2019-2020 campaign as an advisor to his long-time friend Keily.
Known for being a person of good character and strong values, Twohey — who left Arizona on his own terms and for personal reasons — has said he would like to get back into the NHL as a scout should a suitable opportunity become available. But in the interim, Twohey told Hockey News North that he is “really enjoying” working for Kingston and if he stays on with the Frontenacs, hopes to help the organization win a championship for the first time in franchise history.
Scouting was always a passion for Twohey when he was the full time GM in both Peterborough and Oshawa and in his new associate role in Kingston as an advisor to Keily, the affable veteran said he headed out on a scouting mission “just about every night” during the 2019-2020 season.
While first earning his stripes in Peterborough as assistant GM and then the GM, Twohey was known for being complete with regard to every detail when scouting and evaluating a player.
Meanwhile, being married with a young family and working full time in medical pharmaceutical sales while also scouting for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds is something that 39-year old Freddie Coccimiglio manages to fit into his hectic schedule.
Coccimiglio, who holds a master’s degree in sports administration, joined the six-member Flint scouting staff under general manager Barclay Branch in 2018.
Originally from Sault Ste. Marie and now living in the Niagara Region, Coccimiglio’s duties with the Firebirds include being responsible for scouting midget aged, draft eligible players in the Buffalo, Burlington, Hamilton, Niagara, Brampton, Grey Bruce, Guelph, Halton and Oakville areas.
Before joining Flint, Coccimiglio worked for the OHL’s Central Scouting department for two years. He told Hockey News North that there is assistance from the home front that allows him to balance his part time scouting job with his full time work in sales.
“It helps to have a supportive wife and a job that frees me up at night and on weekends,” relayed Coccimiglio.
Elsewhere and of note, a number of OHL teams employ scouts who are responsible for covering the expansive, northeastern Ontario area of the province. And while many of them are based in the Greater Sudbury Area, three teams also have scouts who work out of Sault Ste. Marie.
That short list includes Nick Della Penta of the Soo Greyhounds, Jimmy Mancuso of the Guelph Storm and Mike Oliverio of the Flint Firebirds.
To be sure, being an OHL scout responsible for evaluating 15-year old players who are not fully matured and trying to project them as future players in the league, is not an easy task.
For every first and second and third round pick who pans out, there are many who do not achieve potential. In fact, even the mighty London Knights have been known to whiff on first and second round draft picks.
But it is the good scout who swings for the fence and hits it out of the park more often than not.
And it is the good scout who not only does his home work but passes the test with high marks.
Just as it is the good general manager who listens to and trusts the judgement of the good scouts who have left little to chance when it comes to proper and thorough evaluation of 15-year old hockey prospects.