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GM Dudley Talks Scouting Philosophy and Thrashers Future

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Rick Dudley on the NHL Hour with Gary Bettman (click to listen) and he made some interesting comments about how he approaches scouting and how he sees the Thrashers. For those of you who haven't listened to the segment, I have transcribed the comments below.

Rick Dudley: I kind of looked at it as a kind of science. I never stopped trying to make a better mouse-trap in terms of how to evaluate talent. I got fairly complicated--and some people might say too complicated--to the point where I felt that if you put enough categories together and if you got very accurate at assessing those talent categories--things like skating and puckhandling and their aggressive tendencies--and you built a model of what you thought was a perfect hockey player. Then at some point in time you could affix a number to a player who was up for the draft. Now in amateur scouting part is about projections so it is much more difficult than evaluating an already profession hockey player. But you can still get to a point where you follow the history of players of certain type, of a certain weight of a certain skating style you can come to a conclusion that this player has a very good chance of becoming a National Hockey League player. And I think that's what most of us do that try to watch players. I've never stopped trying to get better and I think now in Atlanta we'd got a pretty good system at evaluating players.

Gary Bettman: When you're evaluating a player and looking at the heart, the head or the body, which is most important.

Rick Dudley: We I think you have to have a certain level of all three. The character and the head have become the most important things in our game today, along with speed. Speed has become a prerequisite for our game. Ironically when the rules changed most people thought that the speed component would come predominately on the forward lines, but I think it has become so important for the defensemen to be able to move their feet. They also are put under a great deal of pressure, so they have to have the character to go along with it. I think that the one thing that you have a very difficult time playing in the NHL unless you have the intellect or the hockey sense of what is going to happen next on the ice. Obviously, there are some players, who at a whole different level than other guys, but if your hockey sense is poor you will have a tough time playing.

Gary Bettman: Talk about your rise from Assisant GM to GM and the Atlanta Thrashers.

Rick Dudley: I came in and worked with Don--and Don's still my boss--it hasn't changed a great deal. Whenever we do anything with the team there are three people who talk about it. One is Don Waddell the Team President, then there is myself the General Manager and Larry Simmons the Assistant GM. When it comes to make a final decision on a player we're all together on it. When we are evaluating coaching candidates we all sit in and evaluate that and I think that's very important.

I had much the same position last year and I don't think people realize how far this team has come. I like our defense--we're young, we're talented and I think up front we have nothing but potential. I said this in Chicago and people laughed at me "The Chicago Blackhawks were an outstanding team just waiting to happen" and I think we're close to that in Atlanta. We're a good team waiting to happen. With a couple of notable moves, with two first round draft picks, we can be a good team very very quickly.