I just returned from an awesome weekend in Toronto at the 2010 NHL Combines.  EXACT Sports has been evaluating top hockey players at the Combines for some time now, but this was only my second year in attendance. For those who are not familiar with the Pre-Draft Combines, NHL’s Central Scouting invites the top 100 prospects to Toronto to be put through rigorous fitness tests, psychological tests and medical testing, as well as one-on-one interviews all in preparation for the upcoming draft.

EXACT Sports is responsible for administering the psychological tests, as well as three stations during the combine — Hex Agility, Balance, and Neuro-cognitive testing.  Much of the psychological testing is administered prior to the Combine itself, while the Neuro-cognitive testing is administered immediately after the players complete their Wingate and VO2Max testing. The Wingate tests measure explosive speed and fatigue, while the VO2Max test measures endurance. EXACT’s neuro-cognitive test then measures a player’s reaction time and spatial awareness and helps provide a fatigue index.

From a player’s standpoint, the time spent at the Combine has to be difficult as they must not only endure physical, psychological and medical testing, but they must endure countless hours of interviews with teams and the media.  I do not think I would want to be in their shoes, but I guess I need to look at it from a different perspective, as the NHL combines bring them one step closer to their dreams of becoming an NHL player and represents a culmination of a lifetime of practice and training.

On the other hand, the NHL teams are trying to assimilate and integrate information from a multitude of sources (scouting, player interviews, staff meetings, results from the Combines, and player stats) to help them to draft the right players that will benefit their organization.

EXACT Sports relishes their role in helping the NHL evaluate players and assist in providing teams with comprehensive feedback on the mental make-up of each of the prospects.