Owatonna hockey coach Eric Fink enjoys watching kids develop and grow as players and people. He was working with the younger elementary age skaters during a camp at Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna recently as I spoke with him.

Fink was just named as an amateur scout for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes and will be looking for players dreaming of the ultimate goal of becoming a professional hockey player, "Amateur scouting is watching players that no one has the rights to yet. So they haven't been drafted or they are up for the draft." He pointed out there are also pro scouts who watch players NHL teams might want to acquire through free agency or trades. Fink will be working on the amateur side.

He will scout Minnesota high school hockey, NCAA, the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League. Fink spent time as a coach in the USHL and NAHL where he was an assistant with the Express in Owatonna. He also coached in the Minnesota Junior League and with Augsburg in the MIAC. The 1997 graduate of Sauk Rapids High School attended Bemidji State.

Fink did the groundwork to land this scouting position, "No one posts jobs or anything like that. So you hear about different opportunities through different scouts that are in the business. I reached out to Carolina last year because I knew they didn't have anybody in this area and most teams do." After delaying a decision last season, the 'Canes hired Fink for this season, "I stayed in contact with them...they decided to add someone in the area."

 

Fink is currently a coach on the Owatonna High School staff. He isn't sure how much he will be able to work with the Huskies this coming season around his new job. "I assume I'll be at games whenever there's games," he said. "Just trying to see as much as I can, especially since I won't have the background at that level. For me, I'll just get out and watch as much as I possibly can and see as many guys as I can and learn as much as I can about them."

The USHL has teams across the Upper Midwest, including Iowa, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.

Fink feeds off the enthusiasm of the youngest players, including two of his own, "They're awesome. They're always smiling and having fun." Regarding his interest in scouting and coaching, "The scouting side of it, it's almost like a puzzle. You're trying to put it all together. There's no right or wrong answer. It's watching and trying to gather as much info as you can. And I've always like that side of it, even when I was coaching, I liked recruiting and scouting of players."

"And then on the coaching side of it, players are fun to work with, watching them develop. Some kids come in and they're a little bit squirrelly. And by the time you see them in high school, they've matured quite a bit, they've grown and they're different."