SASKATOON - The Saskatoon Blades look to be going on a powerplay after changes to their scouting system.
Veteran leader Doug Molleken, 54, has signed a two year extension and will direct his focus on Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the United States as Director of Scouting, Eastern Region. The long-time head scout for the Blades will be surrounded by a few of his old birddogs and a lot of new talent.
Doug's partner will be Dan Tencer, 28, promoted from regional scout to Director of Scouting, Western Region, responsible for Alberta and British Columbia. Before coming to the Blades in 2013, Tencer was the host of the Edmonton Oilers Radio Network and Inside Sports for 7 years on Corus Radio, where he still co-hosts a radio show.
Both men will report directly to Managing Partner Colin Priestner, who will oversee the bantam and European drafts, working closely with General Manager Bob Woods and Assistant General Manager Steve "Hilty" Hildebrand.
This trio has already demonstrated its effectiveness working together with what independent observers noted was an impressive performance at the 2014 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. The three were point men at the Blades draft table, selecting a total of 12 players. After the last name was called, the influential Western Elite Hockey Prospects group was quick to applaud the Blades’ performance, stating, "The Saskatoon Blades didn’t have a first round selection this year but that didn’t stop them from having one of the top drafts."
"The amount of scouting, research and conversations those three led put the Blades in a great position heading into that draft. Their work, combined with the reporting of our other scouts, led to the success we realized at the draft," says Blades President Steve Hogle, who was eyewitness to both the work leading up to the draft as well as the decisions made at the draft table.
"This structure for scouting puts the organization in a great position for years to come," adds GM Bob Woods. "Their passion is unrivalled, their organization is impressive and their talent is evident in the results."
Highly respected Saskatoon-based scout Frank Dryka and Winnipeg's Scott Unger are both back with the Blades and they are joined by a number of new scouts, each with impressive resumes.
"The quality of our people is absolutely stellar and they’ve already shown their input is outstanding. We’re also going to employ cutting edge systems with the view to use another weapon to gain the edge on the competition," adds Managing Partner Colin Priestner. "We are out for more than respect. We are out to win."
Here is how the Blades scouting squad now stacks up under the Director of Scouting, Eastern Division, Doug Molleken and Director of Scouting, Western Division, Dan Tencer:
Kerry Gladson: Joining the staff for his first year, Kerry played NCAA hockey for the University of Illinois in Chicago and has both played and coached in the BCHL. The veteran minor hockey coach is also the Director at the prestigious West Coast Hockey Prep Camp.
Jason Smart: Entering his second season on staff, Jason played two seasons for the Blades from 1988-90 and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1989. Following his pro career, Jason coached and instructed hockey at various levels and serves as an RCMP Corporal. Jason’s son Jonathan was Kelowna’s 1st round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
Ty Symenuk: Entering his first year scouting for the Blades, Ty played Midget AAA for the Moose Jaw Generals from 2011-2013 and is now turning his focus to building a career on the business side of hockey as he prepares to major in Finance at University of Calgary.
Tom Symenuk: Tom brings a wealth of hockey history into his inaugural season as a scout. He played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, including three years as a captain with the Nipawin Hawks. He went on to the University of Saskatchewan to play hockey and pursue a degree. He coached with the Saskatoon Contacts for 8 seasons and has spent the last decade as Vice President of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Mike Bracko: A first year scout, Mike has over two decades of experience as a skating, strength and conditioning coach. In addition to working with Junior and Pro players, Mike is also a member of the staff for the USA Men’s Deaflympic Hockey Team. Mike also played at the University of Illinois.
Joe Jacobs: Joining the scouting staff for his first season, Joe is an avid hockey observer with a history of playing competitive hockey in his youth. Joe will bring the same level of competitiveness, detail and professionalism to the staff that he does to his work as a mortgage broker.
Tyrel Spitzer: Starting his rookie campaign on the scouting staff, Tyrelhas 5 years of experience coaching Bantam AAA hockey, and was on the staff of the 2008 Western Canadian champions. Tyrel is entering his 3rdseason as head coach of the Sherwood Park Kings Bantam AAA team and 1st season as assistant coach of the club’s Midget AAA team.
Frank Dryka: Entering his fifth season scouting for the Blades, Frank is a 20 year veteran of WHL scouting, having previously served on the staff of the Regina Pats. Very involved in minor hockey with his two sons, Frank has also coached Bantam AA in Saskatoon.
Kelsey Lindal: Beginning his first year on the scouting staff, Kelsey is the President of the Humboldt Minor Hockey Association and has a long background in coaching, developing and mentoring young players.
Scott Unger: A five year veteran of the scouting staff, Scott has 11 years of experience in the sports industry, including four years as a Junior A scout and the last four and a half years in professional baseball with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
Courtesy Cody Nicholet