The Prince George Spruce Kings have gone Wild with their latest move to extend their scouting tentacles.
They've hired former Minnesota Wild scout Craig Carter to fill a new position as the B.C. Hockey League team's associate general manager and director of player personnel.
In announcing the move last week, Kings general manager Mike Hawes said he's known Carter through most of his 15 seasons in the BCHL and the two have often discussed the possibility of working together in a collective effort to attract top-notch junior A players.
"Craig's been around the BCHL and junior hockey in Western Canada for a long time and I've known him a lot of years and have always respected his ability to assess players," said Hawes. "Just with the level of recruiting that's required now to have a successful team in our league, the evolution of our league has become so much that it's all hands on deck and it's completely cutthroat. So to have a guy like Craig, who is very well connected with the NCAA schools and the hockey world throughout North America is vitally important. For me, this is the next step in the continuing evolution of the organization."
Carter, 37, lives in Langley, where he holds a full-time job as a maintenance worker with the city's waterworks department. His work schedule will allow him plenty of opportunities to scout midget and junior games in the Lower Mainland, where many of the teams are concentrated.
"I watch multiple leagues every Saturday and Sunday, and that's the glory of where I'm at," said Carter. "I can see a school sports (academy) game and a major midget game and I see junior B throughout the week and tournaments, you can get anywhere from Vancouver. I'll be front and centre for them down here and that's going to be great."
Carter also knows Kings head coach Alex Evin, who was still a goaltender in the league when he started out as a scout. He will join Hawes and Evin when they get together to scout tournaments or while Hawes is attending league meetings during the season.
"We've had a lot of success recruiting players out of the Lower Mainland that were key parts of our championship team (in 2019) and the good teams we've had the last few seasons," said Hawes. "Craig lives down there, he's going to be based there, and with us moving out of that Mainland Division and into the Interior Conference it's going to be nice to have him in the Lower Mainland and the Spruce Kings will still have a heavy presence there because of it."
Carter worked in the NHL as an amateur scout for the Wild for two seasons from 2016-18. He was a BCHL birddog for three seasons with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (2014-16, 2018-19) and prior to that was with the Coquitlam Express, Westside Warriors and Langley Rivermen.
"I think it's a really good fit for me and hopefully I slot in to what they want and what they need," said Carter. "Much like Mike, I have regular full-time job in the Lower Mainland and I probably couldn't leave the pension. I've always worked hockey on the side as kind of a secondary income stream and it's a really big passion of mine, it's what I would love to do full-time."
Next season's Centennial Cup national junior A championship will be hosted in Penticton and Carter intends to have the Spruce Kings be part of it.