Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scott Ford: One Goal - Playing in the NHL

When you pick up the brand new 2011-12 Nashville Predators Media Guide and go to the roster of organizational players to do a little research on defenseman Scott Ford, you quickly find that he is not listed.

Further research shows that he is signed to a one-way AHL contract with the Milwaukee Admirals, yet he was one of the 55 players invited to the Predators pre-season camp.

Ford was born in Fort St. John, British Columbia on Christmas Eve, 1979, making him the second oldest player participating in camp, behind only Jerred Smithson.

On the surface, it could appear that the 6'3", 216 pounder is in camp as some of "Crash Davis-type" (Bull Durham) player who's primary job it is to help a young "Nuke LaLoossh" AKA the many young defensemen, as a quasi-coach.

That's not the case at all.

Ford explains, "I wouldn’t say (I'm) a coach or have a coaching perspective because I’m still wanting to learn. I'm getting to the rink and working hard and trying to push the younger guys as much as they push me. It’s been a good situation but the ultimate goal is to play in the National Hockey League."

Ford was undrafted as a junior player at Merritt in the BCHL and went on to play four years at Brown University. Since that time he has played 447 regular season games as a pro but is yet to set foot on NHL ice for a single regular season game.

His last three years have been with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators' AHL affiliate. Last season, he set career highs with 80 games, penalty minutes (164), and a +10 (+-) rating. He also played 13 Calder Cup Playoff games.

Entering his eight season as a pro, the goal remains constant. "My ultimate goal is to play in the NHL here in Nashville. It’s my fourth year here and I’ve played mostly in Milwaukee in a development situation there, but the ultimate goal is the NHL."

Being in camp with the top defensive pairing, several others with NHL experience, and a bunch of high draft pick prospects, is not intimidating to the long time pro. "Being an older guy is OK once and a while. It’s good to have some youthful exuberance around you. It really pushes you hard."

"The younger guys look up to you a little bit and if you are able to help them learn then all the better. Both of you are professionals and that’s what you can do each and every day. They definitely push you hard to get better and get some youth back in your own game."

Further into the conversation, Ford became more reflective about the past three seasons in Milwaukee with all the top prospects. "It’s kind of a mentorship ideology down there. If I can help these young guys improve and become professional both on and off the ice then that feels good to me too."

The only admission of age came late in our discussion. "When you get kind of old and it’s getting to the twilight of your career it’s always nice to pass on what you have learned and a lot of the little things to the younger guys and hopefully they can prosper and take it and make the best career possible."

Don't ever give up Scott. Always remember, "The ultimate goal is to play in the National Hockey League."

Wherever you are when you play your first NHL game, I will be quietly celebrating.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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