Fredericton, NB / Ottawa, ON (January 22, 2021) – Former NHL scout, Mike Fairman, is at the forefront of significant innovation in the world of sports scouting and prospect evaluation. An alumnus of West Point and their hockey program, Fairman has merged his background in psychology and business management with his love for sports.
Mike’s path to the NHL started in Washington DC where he managed a team of sports psychologists working with segments of the US Army. His team studied resilience in soldiers, looking into how they could bounce back from adversity in order to combat PTSD and other effects from the war. Mike states, “It was basically sports performance applied to the military.”
Fairman was scooped up by an NHL team in the winter of 2015. Here, he hit the ground running as a scout and hockey operations adviser. As one might assume, he specialized in studying the mental side of the game. “We looked at the questions: ‘How do we evaluate prospects, not just on the ice, but off the ice? What’s their mental makeup? What players are going to give us the best chance to win?’” In assessing players, Mike and his team looked at the general principles of grit, growth mindset, focus, determination, competitiveness, and off-ice demeanor. He was able to develop a structural interviewing process involving in-person meetings and questionnaires to collect data on prospects.
Throughout the course of his years in the NHL, Mike realized a trend regarding the key makeup of successful players. This trend involves a balance of what he calls performance character and moral/ethical character. While many individuals conflate these two aspects of character, Mike has learned from his scouting experience that they must be considered and assessed separately in order to fully understand an athlete.
The ultimate goal in professional sports scouting is to find players who will contribute to winning either immediately or in the future. In any league, such as the NHL, where prospects enter through a draft, teams search for value and upside in their picks. Mike explains, “The goal is to find those players that you can draft in later rounds that have a growth mindset. You can be the best on your team, but once you get into the pro ranks are you willing to play a different role? Are you willing to change what you’re doing in order to be more of a team player?” This comes full circle with his research on the mental side of the game. Through his methods of character evaluation, Fairman has been successful in finding a number of key NHL prospects.
Mike is a strong advocate for the use of data analytics to assess player character in sports scouting. Speaking on the matter, he states, “I think it is going to have a huge impact. It’s sort of the next Moneyball in a way. The foundation that makes teams successful is a positive culture. I think if you can assess prospects, or even players that are currently playing in the NHL, you can build that culture where you have different parts that work together and are successful.”
How do you create a winning culture? At Avrij Analytics, we believe that character evaluation plays a huge role. Finding all around, culture building athletes is the first step in building a championship caliber team. Learn more about what we do at www.avrij.com.
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