By Emilie Medland-Marchen, April 6 2017 —
A new app developed by a former Canadian hockey player is giving athletes more autonomy in the trade process.
Scoutr Sports is designed to help players review prospective or past hockey teams. It was created by Stormer Santana, a former Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) goalie from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario who was fed up with being constantly traded and improperly informed about the new teams he would be joining.
The app requires users to sign up with a Facebook account before posting reviews of a team. Reviews and comments are posted anonymously, but the Facebook gateway allows for Santana to cross-reference names with stats websites like eliteprospects.com to ensure that reviews are authentic. Posts are anonymous except for the years and months played for a team.
Scoutr Sports launched in February 2017 and reached over 100,000 people in its first week, with over 400 teams reviewed.
With minor league players traded constantly and intense pressure to make the National Hockey League in more competitive leagues, an app like Scoutr Sports gives athletes more autonomy in the trade process.
Santana himself is an example of the poor treatment young players often face in minor league hockey. After playing for the AAA Minnesota prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s, he was drafted to the North American Hockey League’s Kalamazoo K-Wings. He decided to play Jr. A for the Ontario Junior League’s Markham Waxers to live closer to home. A week before he was set to start, the team fired their coach and general manager and traded Santana to the Hamilton Red Wings.
When Santana arrived in Hamilton he found that he was replacing a long-time friend and rival for the goalie position. Halfway through the season, Santana was traded again at the OJHL deadline. He was traded to five different teams in the three years that he played in the league.
Santana’s story is just one of the many young Canadian hockey players hoping to play professional hockey. Between the ages of 15–17, many young players hoping to make it to the NHL are expected to move away from their families to locations across North America. Athletes are often traded to small towns with limited mental and emotional support. They are expected to live with billet families and adapt to the gruelling demands of minor league hockey while impressing their coaches and team enough to move up the ranks.
Because trades happen unexpectedly, players and their families are given limited information about a prospective team. Scoutr Sports provides some honest insight into teams who may not be upfront about their expectations in a potential trade.
The app allows players to rank teams on a five-star scale and provide anonymous comments on the years they played there. It’s an innovation that has been a long-time coming in the hockey world. In the minor leagues where coaches and general managers have the power to shuffle athletes across the continent, apps like Scoutr Sports can help athletes decide whether they want to go through with the move.
The app has the potential to make teams more accountable to their players as well. Poor reviews could limit prospects for teams — rather than hearing negative commentary from the rumour mill, apps like Scoutr Sports leave digital traces of the ways teams treat their players.
After years of trades and feeling unwanted in minor league hockey, Santana left hockey and attended the University of Denver. He came up with the idea for Scoutr Sports when he was introduced to the website ratemyprofessors.com.
While Santana’s story may not be the last incident of athlete mistreatment in the minor leagues, his innovative app has the opportunity to improve the scope of information available to underage athletes and their families.