Chris Morehouse had help, but he helped himself too.
The San Jose Sharks’ new Director of Amateur Scouting spoke with San Jose Hockey Now about the proudest moment of his playing career, who a Chris Morehouse player is, and some of the Draft picks that he pounded the table for as Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Director of North American Scouting with the New York Rangers.
This is Part 1 of a two-part interview: Here, we talk about Morehouse’s best Brad Marchand story, the CHL award that he won, how father-in-law John Davidson helped get his foot in the scouting door, and how he’s made the most of this opportunity since then.
Sheng Peng: You played with Brad Marchand on the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. What’s your best Marchand story?
Chris Morehouse: The best stories about him are just how competitive he was. How he carried himself, the good swagger that he had when he put his gear on, even though he was oftentimes smaller than everybody else.
The same reasons why fans either love him or hate him now, he had a lot of that back then, just in terms of being a confident player that when he stepped on the ice, he wanted to make a difference.
I’ve used him in terms of just examples in Drafts and the “it” factor, the charisma that he played with. Just his demeanor.
When you’re setting the bar for trying to draft a smaller player, but then his ability to adapt and be physical and learn the other sides of the game.
It all goes back to just how competitive and confident he was, but in a way that you knew when you watched him, when he played, that he was just gonna find a way.
SP: Was the proudest moment of your playing career when you were named captain of the Wildcats?
CM: Honestly, probably the one I’m most proud about is when I won Humanitarian of [the Year for] the Canadian Hockey League [in 2008].
My 20-year-old year, the year I was captain of Moncton, we got some sponsorships on board and some people I knew around the area, we started a section in the rink, I think it was 15 to 20 tickets for sick kids. So the hospital in Moncton could bring sick kids and their families to the arena to watch the game.
Winning that award where I’m recognized [in] the entirety of the Canadian Hockey League…I wasn’t, as you can tell, when you look at my numbers and my statistics, I wasn’t a highly-skilled player.
I made a promise to myself when I first started playing hockey. Then I got on Moncton, I started doing a little bit more in the community, and I just realized how important, even at 17, 18, 19 years old, you can still make a difference on kids’ lives.
Obviously, being named captain is really special. It’s something I took really seriously. But the broader picture of being able to be in the community and be recognized for something that’s not hockey-related, but it is, because you use your platform in a positive way.
SP: How did you find yourself scouting? Who did you learn from?
CM: When I was still playing, I reached out to some hockey people I know. I asked about how to stay in the game, what to do. I didn’t know if I wanted to go back and play back [in the ECHL]. And then, scouting came up in the conversation I had with Larry Pleau, who at the time was the GM in St. Louis. Now he’s helping in Arizona.
He just said scouting is a job that if you work hard and put the work in, your job really depends on how hard you work and the amount of games you see. Obviously, you have to have an eye for talent.
I just started working part-time. I look back at my first job in Columbus with Jarmo Kekäläinen, my first GM, gave me an opportunity to work there. Then working with Ville Siren, he has been for close to 10 years their head scout or director of scouting. He’s a big guy for me, brought me on as a part-time guy, worked with me as a full-time guy, then I was helping him out in crossover situations and he would give me more responsibility in terms of the Draft. So he’s certainly a big, big name for me, helping me to get to where I am now.
I’d also add Tyler Wright and Paul Castron, two guys in my first year in Columbus that were really good guys to bounce things off of and learn from.
When I made the move to New York and got the opportunity to be the Director of North American Scouting, working with Chris Drury and John Lilley this past season. [Lilley] came over from Toronto, he was the Director of Amateur Scouting and Player Personnel and I learned a lot from him this year.
I think this past year with John Lilley has really helped make me feel like I’m ready.
I’ve had a lot of really good people along the way, obviously, getting into it. My father-in-law being John Davidson, got my foot in the door, getting a job in Columbus as a part-time guy.
But it’s one thing to get an opportunity. Obviously, you need to make the most of it.
All the scouts. You can learn from each individual scout. A lot of times I would come in, the lowest [on the totem pole]. You know, I haven’t played in the NHL, I [wasn’t] in one NHL camp. I don’t pretend like I did.
But I think when you have those people around you and there’s guys that have played in the NHL and have worked in the NHL and have done something for so long, you can really learn from that.
SP: You mentioned Davidson, do you see this position as an opportunity to spread your wings a bit?
CM: Yeah, when you start down this road, you have to be prepared for it. I [know] someone who’s high up in the hockey world, has a predominant position. It’s easy for people to look at that and say that’s why [I’m] in this position. That’s why he’s there.
And listen, I 100 percent can attest to that, I got my foot in the door by [John]. But I think if people are honest with themselves around the league, they all got their foot in the door in a similar situation. Maybe it’s not directly a father-in-law.
But I think the last year, [running] the Draft in the year prior when he was let go, and then all this past year, doing it on my own in terms of not having him in the same organization, I would hope any questions about my ability and how I got to this point would have been gone out the window after staying on with New York and getting a contract there [without him].
And then, now with this situation [with the San Jose Sharks].
I’ve always felt there’s also a flipside too, when it’s your father-in-law, it’s a family-run thing, there’s pressure on that side too, you don’t want to mess up either.
I read a quote, the Toronto Blue Jays a few years ago, hired this manager.
They talked about how this guy was a former player, he went back, and he rode the bus at double-AA, rode the bus at single-A, rode the bus at triple-AAA, basically saying I don’t want to go through and skip a step when I do this process. Because I want to make sure [when] I finally get to that point that I feel like I’ve been through it all, I know all those different things.
John Lilley said the same thing to us last year as a group, I’ve been in every seat that you guys have been in.
Now when I look at this situation here, and I can say I’ve been a part-time scout, I’ve been a crossover scout, I’ve been an Assistant Director of Scouting, I’ve been a Director of North American Scouting.
All those experiences along the way have really helped me know and feel comfortable that I’m more than capable and ready to do this.
I’m very grateful and very appreciative of the opportunity to work in the game to begin with, and I got that opportunity through [John], and now I’ve looked at it where every single day I’m fighting and clawing and working to continue to prove to people that I’m here based on my own merit and based on who I am as a scout and as a communicator and as an individual.
The plan is here to have lots of success with Mike and the staff that he has brought in. The longer you are away, then obviously, the less people ask that question.
Check out Part 2 of my Morehouse interview later this weekend, where we delve move into his role as Director of Amateur Scouting, and his past Drafts with Columbus and New York.
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