When I talk to young hockey players in hockey schools or at other events, I often ask them the following question: “How many of you would like to play in the NHL someday?” Invariably, most of the boys raise their hand. And who would blame them. Playing in the NHL is a goal that most young hockey players dream about at some time in their childhood.
My next question is often the following: “How many of you believe that, if you really work hard, you could make it to the NHL”? Some hands stay down on this one but many of them keep their hand up with excitement and energy.
I never want to discourage players from aspiring to play in the NHL. However, the reality is that many young boys have the dream but very few of them do come true. The NHL is not a career that we choose but one where you are chosen. One can decide to become an engineer or a lawyer or a fireman or policeman. Becoming a professional athlete is quite a bit different.
The statistics are pretty astounding: The NHL Entry Draft is held every year for teams to select players who are the very best in the world. They must be 18 years old by September 15th of the draft year. The draft is almost World Wide now because approximately 40% of NHL players come from Europe, the other 60% come from North America.
The “bench mark” to be considered a legitimate NHL player is 250 games, or about 3 seasons. In the ten years going from the 1998 draft to the 2007 draft, 2640 players were selected by NHL teams. From that total, only 256 players played 250 games in the NHL or 9.7%. If we round up, 10% of the best prospects in the world become NHL players.
The percentage increases if a player is drafted in the early rounds. In the same time period, 295 players were first round selections, 117 played 250 games or 39.7%. If a player was drafted in the top three rounds, the percentage drops by half to 19.6%.
Does it mean that young hockey players shouldn’t dream of playing in the NHL? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Competing and being part of a team is a great development path. However, I encourage kids to search within themselves to find something else that they love to do or that they have a passion for. IWhatever it is that you eventually do in life, if you have a passion for it, the dream of being a professional athlete will fade away.
It’s so important to have fun, to compete and to strive to be the best that you can be. The only thing you can do is to prepare yourself physically, mentally and compete hard so that you give yourself a chance to be CHOSEN.
In a futute blog, I’ll tell you how I became a professional goalie in the NHL. It’s a good story…stay tuned
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
Phil Myre (www.philmyretalkshockey.com) (every Tuesday and Friday)