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Asking NHL Prospects These Questions Will Fix Your Franchise

NHL team officials watch prospects take part in testing during the NHL Combine at HarborCenter on June 3, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Each year, the hockey news cycle gets a little dry by the tail end of the Stanley Cup Final. The combined anxiety of 30 fanbases with nothing better to do than sit on their hands and wait for the next season to start has a powerful parching effect. These fans can either watch teams that aren't their own play for the Cup, or look hungrily toward the future, by which I mean the Boy Auction, more commonly known as the NHL Draft. But which teenage boys shall your team go after? How do you predict the potential of a player who still has years of development ahead of them?

The answer, for NHL front offices, comes in the form of bizarrely packaged questions during short interviews with select players. By asking questions like, "Are you a virgin," the same GM who keeps failing the rebuild each year can dial in a fine-grained sense of the destiny that awaits an 18-year-old from Saskatchewan with a name like Kannon or Bonk. I think they asked that same question during my friend's fraternity pledge process!

Across other North American major leagues, team scouts and general managers are asking equally devious questions at their respective combines. And I suppose there's a reasoning behind all of it—to quote NBA Front Office Insider Bobby Marks, "It's not always about what you can do on the court."

This time around, the questions that made waves came from the incoming Utah hockey club:

Hmm, yeah, I don't really know what this question could be trying to get at either. A famous player has never been charged for beating up a taxi cab driver, right?

The word on the street is that Utah also asked prospects what their Snapchat Scores were, which, OK. If you are getting the sense that they really don't want a guy like Patrick Kane, it would be hard to blame you, or really them.

That said, I'm not particularly impressed by the weirdness of the questions this year. When the answer is something as simple as a number, you don't get the wonderful, deep confusion that a more open-ended inquiry can pose, especially when that inquiry is born from the unique mindset of a sports executive.

Take this solid question from last year, which not only invoked WWII and killing your teammates, but also put defenseman David Reinbacher into a panic:

They're probably also asking other important questions like, "How would you react if someone slashes you?" or "Why didn't you go to college?" But I'm sure those answers get a little boring after a while.

And so, in the spirit of being constructive, I have put forth some less-boring questions that NHL teams should consider using for the combine next year.

1. What does "That's that me, espresso" mean to you?

2. If you had to eat a crayon, what color crayon would you eat?

3. You encounter a man. He says he works in Silicon Valley and that the end of the world is coming because we aren't having enough babies. How many babies do you plan to have in response to this information?

4. You go out after your team plays the Rangers at MSG. The bouncer at Little Sister says you can't enter the club. How do you react to this?

5. A woman calls you. She says she's from Amazon and asks you if you recently spent $8,000 on Macbooks and iPads. You say no. She transfers you to an agent with the FTC, who knows the last four digits of your Social Security Number and tells you that some Real Big Crimes are being committed under your name. The FTC agent transfers you to someone from the CIA. He tells you the government is going to freeze your accounts and that you need to physically transfer money to someone he is sending to your home. How much money from your savings do you decide to put in a shoebox?

6. How would you feel about taking a chartered Amtrak train to games? (Correct answer: excited!!!)

7. In a self-driving car simulator where you have to pick what gets hit by a car, are you saving four dogs and an alleged thief OR three people, a baby, and an alleged thief?

8. Same question as 7, but now you're informed that the four dogs are doodles and the baby is actually Elon Musk.

We're definitely going to find the next Joe Pavelski with these questions! Let's get to work.

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