Prospects handle tough questions during NHL Combine

TSN.ca Staff
5/28/2010 11:53:43 PM
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Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers did his push-ups, the standing long jump, bench press, and rode the dreaded VO2 Max machine.

But the toughest part of his week might have been answering this question in an interview with an NHL club: "What would you like better, a gun, or a good poem?"

Indeed, the story of the NHL Scouting Combine, which began on Friday in Toronto, goes far beyond simple physical tests. Teams want to know what makes the prospects tick mentally, as well as physically.

And all exercises being more or less equal, it's those interview answers that NHL executives, general managers, and scouts might remember best when it comes time to choose their players at the NHL Entry Draft on June 25-26 in Los Angeles.

In many cases, the combine represents the first chance that NHL teams have to formally meet and get to know the prospects - and it's an opportunity for the players to make an impression on their prospective employers during the 20 minute, one-on-one interviews that take place prior to the physical tests.

"It really just gives (NHL clubs) more information," explains TSN Insider Bob McKenzie. "They have seen things over the course of the season, and the kids have a lot to answer for on and off the ice. That interview process is every bit as important, if not moreso, than what goes on in the physical testing."

In case you were wondering, Seguin answered, "I thought guns were pretty destructive, and I'm not very poetic, but I would go with a good poem."

Fellow top prospect Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires also fielded an off-beat question.

"They asked me, 'If you were getting invaded by a country in a war and you had to take one family member with you, who would it be?'

"There was no right answer, but it was just a weird question," Hall told TSN.

Windsor defenceman Cam Fowler thinks he made a good impression on the teams he spoke to.

"I think my interviews went really well this week," Fowler told TSN. "I have some follow-up interviews with a couple of teams, so I think that's a good sign when they want to get to know you better."

TSN's No. 5 ranked prospect, Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars, also endured a challenging week at the interview table.

"I had a few tough teams," said Connolly. "Boston was tough on me, and Pittsburgh was a little different too. There were a few questions where the teams wanted to test you and see what you're made of."

And what might all those answers boil down to? The Edmonton Oilers will make the first selection at the draft, and general manager Steve Tambellini was impressed by both Hall and Seguin.

"They're both great kids, very focused, supportive families, it's a tough choice," Tambellini told TSN. "The rewarding part is that you're going to get an impact player coming to your organization."

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