E.J. McGuire was the NHL Director of Central Scouting for seven years before sadly losing his battle with cancer in April, 2011. McGuire served as a head coach at many levels: collegiate, junior and American Hockey League, in addition to serving as an assistant coach for three NHL teams over 12 seasons. He also served as a scout for two teams and accepted the mantle as Director of Central Scouting in 2005.
On Saturday, at the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, just after getting under way, Jim Gregory, past Director of Central Scouting for many years before becoming Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, announced the inaugural recipient of the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence.
The award, which will be presented annually, is to be given to a draft-eligible prospect who “best exemplifies the commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.”
“E.J. McGuire was the architect behind the creation of the NHL Scouting Combine and a visionary of many modern-day advancements being introduced into the game,” said Dan Marr, current Director of Central Scouting. “NHL Central Scouting felt it was appropriate to honor his memory by creating an award that embodied all of his exemplary characteristics.”
“We are so honored that E.J. is being remembered in this manner. His whole career was spent reaching for excellence in the sport he loved and this is quite a tribute,” the McGuire family said. “E.J. always showed such a passion in encouraging the future of hockey, so it’s fitting that the recipient is a young man exhibiting excellence at the beginning of his professional hockey career.”
Travis Konecny, a center, who served as captain of the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL this past season, was selected 24th overall in the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers. During the 2014-15 season he recorded 29 goals and 39 assists for 68 points in 60 games. He was voted Best Skater and came in second for Best Stickhandler in a poll of the OHL’s Eastern Conference coaches. The 18-year-old earned two goals and an assist for three points and was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2015 CHL Top Prospects Game.
“Throughout the past season and at various tournaments and events including the NHL Scouting Combine, Travis Konecny has displayed the skills, qualities and character that distinguish him as an ideal teammate and role model,” said Marr. “Our team and NHL colleagues were impressed with his overall abilities and respectful demeanor and felt he was a worthy recipient for this special honor.”
Motivation is never a problem for Konecny apparently, who equates it with the act of waking in the morning.
“My parents pushed me that way so every time I get up I ask myself ‘What are you going to do?,’” he said. “Will I put in hard work that day or slack off? You always got to think there’s someone pushing harder than you and that’s the way I look at it. I’m going to push hard every day and give myself every opportunity to be my best and make the NHL.”