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Daniels still on a high after getting Jets scouting job

Daniels will also provide a fresh set of eyes for other Jets scouts.

SASKATOON — Sydney Daniels has spent several weeks inside the Winnipeg Jets office after being hired as their college scout, but being part of an organization playing in the NHL still feels unreal to her.

“I’m still pinching myself every morning when I wake up … it has been kind of a whirlwind, from the moment my last position ended to … being here in Winnipeg,” said Daniels, who is the first female from Treaty 6 to be an NHL operations staff member.

“Right now, as I sit in the office, I’m still trying to … conceptually understand and realize where I am. It’s been a dream; I feel like I’ve been dreaming for the last week. It’s a dream that I don’t hopefully wake up [from].”

The hiring of Daniels, a Mistawasis Nêhiyawak citizen, is more welcome news for Indigenous people after becoming the second First Nation woman to be a scout after Brigette Lacquette of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Lacquette, an Ojibwa woman, made history when she became the first Indigenous person to play hockey for Team Canada in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea as a defender. Canada settled for silver after losing 3-2 against the United States.

Daniels said there are still times she needs to sit back, take a deep breath and think of the present situation, where she’s currently part of a 20-member scouting team for the Jets tasked to find a future NHL star in the college ranks.

“[I’m still] like, ‘whoa! I work for a professional NHL team.’ I’m trusted by staff; I’m treated as one of them. When we were up in the press box [Sunday] in Edmonton … and I had these moments of perspective and gratitude,” said Daniels.

“I [just] don’t know when I would feel more comfortable, but I think it is also an asset in the sense of I don’t ever want to become complacent, because I just always want to keep being hungry and find new ways of being innovative,” she said.

Daniels, who played for Harvard and joined the Crimson as an assistant women’s ice hockey coach, added that she is thankful for getting the chance to be part of Winnipeg’s hockey operations as its college scout.

“I’m so grateful to be here and be surrounded by such incredible people every day … We have a solid crew of talented scouts that have been doing this for so long. The way it is divided, I work with another scout to make sure I’m going to do the bulk of NCAA recruiting,” said Daniels.

“[This] allows him to do more of the [semi] pro recruiting. We also have a European scout on our staff and we’re covering all the hot spots of hockey in the world. In my position right now, I’m just making sure I’m fully immersed in the NCAA. It’s my main priority.”

One of her tasks is to identify potential NHL-caliber players from the NCAA or rookie free agents and try to get them to camps. The NCAA Division I 2022 men’s hockey season starts Saturday, Oct. 1, and ends with the championship in April 2023.

Going to Europe to scout college players there is not yet on her timetable as her focus is more on North American colleges like teams on the East Coast. Despite being a college scout, she can also provide another set of eyes on potential non-college players.

“There’s so much freedom in terms of scheduling and some other scouts may say, ‘I liked this person. We need to get eyes on him and who is close by?’ I’m pretty much focused on college hockey, but I’m also here to be another set of eyes and form another opinion,” she said.

“It … helps us navigate through how we want to handle to acquire a new player or just keep track throughout their careers,” added Daniels, who will be based mainly in Boston, which is considered to be one of the biggest hubs for collegiate hockey talent.

Being based in Boston is to her advantage after spending her collegiate hockey career in that city. She is familiar with its layout and its places. However, she had also planned to check colleges and universities in other states.

“I already have planned trips in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Columbus (Ohio). Just to make sure I’m doing the best I can and having a pulse on it. There’s some travel included with it,” said Daniels.

“I am accustomed to [travelling] with the amount of recruiting that I had to do in my last role [Crimson assistant coach]. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, I might be able to have a couple of trips to Europe to get a pulse on the players and maybe get a good vacation, too.”


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