Red Wings' draft pick Oscar Plandowski prospers in a hockey household
Detroit — There are hockey players whose fathers are, or have been, coaches at various levels. It’s fairly common, and they talk about the certain difficulties that can present.
But how about having a dad who is an NHL scout?
That’s a different twist. More direct and pointed analysis.
Red Wings draft pick Oscar Plandowski, a defenseman who was a fifth-round pick (155th overall) in July’s NHL Entry Draft, has lived that life.
Plandowski’s dad, Darryl, is the director of amateur scouting for the Arizona Coyotes. Darryl has offered Oscar plenty of constructive critiques along the way. The advice has been beneficial.
“Believe me, I grew up with some pretty constructive criticism,” said Oscar, who’ll be playing for the Wings’ prospect tournament team next weekend in Traverse City. “So when I get it from my coaches, it’s not as bad. I’ve grown up with being able to take heat on games.
“When I was a lot younger I’d get more upset or angry at him when I’d get criticism. But in the long run it’s pretty helpful having someone that knows the game like him to be able to critique me.”
Plandowski has grown up around hockey.
While Darryl has been scouting — he was also an amateur scout in Tampa under current Wings general manager Steve Yzerman — mother Jill is a popular power skating coach for NHL players and prospects in the family’s hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Defenseman Jared McIsaac, a Wings prospect and draft pick, is one of Jill’s pupils – as is Oscar, who spoke passionately about his mother after being drafted.
“She taught me how to skate,” Plandowski said. “She was a huge part of my upbringing, driving me to rinks, doing whatever she could to help me get better. She knew I loved the game, so she dedicated everything.
“So, this is all on her. I’m really fortunate to have her.”
For Oscar, being around the NHL life was normal, and seeing what it takes to get to hockey’s highest level.
“Hockey is my No. 1 passion," he said. "It’s been my dream to get drafted. I definitely get to see a different side of it, being able to witness it growing up, my dad preparing for drafts. I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere without both my parents. They’ve been a huge part of my career."
There were advantages having an NHL scout dad, but also challenges.
“As a little kid it was the coolest being able to go into games for free walking in with my dad, going to see junior games, and traveling with him on the road the occasional time,” Oscar said. “It has its perks.
“But it also has its negatives, when your dad’s not there most of the winter. That can be tough. But the positives outweigh the negatives, especially preparing for the draft it was definitely huge.”
Yzerman has a strong relationship with the Plandowskis, given Darryl’s time with the Lightning.
Oscar's skating and physical attributes make him a prospect in the Wings' estimation.
“I met Oscar when he was a little boy,” Yzerman said. “I haven’t seen him play. I’ve seen video of him play. Good size, very good skater, good shot. Our guys liked his size, his skating ability, and he’s a right-shot (defenseman).”
Several scouting services had Oscar being drafted somewhere in the third or fourth round, so dropping to the fifth round was unexpected.
That will motivate the 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman, who had 17 points (five goals) in 39 games for Charlottetown in the Quebec junior league.
“That was one of the tougher experiences I’ve had to go through,” Oscar said of waiting for his name to be called. “I hoped to be drafted a little higher. The biggest thing is just being drafted in general.
“When the rounds keep going by and you see buddies get called it’s kind of painful. But I wouldn’t change how it turned out.”