As a player, coach and scout over the last four decades, Kim Gellert has seen hockey from many different perspectives.
In 2012-13, the 57-year-old Kelowna Rockets’ skills coach is observing the game for the first time as a full-time professional scout.
After six seasons working on a part-time basis for the Buffalo Sabres, the NHL club this year signed Gellert to a two-year deal as the Sabres’ Western regional amateur scout.
“I didn’t really go out and pursue it, the (Sabres) just asked me if I would like to try it full-time and I said yes,” said Gellert. “I love the game, this is a good way to keep me in it and it keeps me busy. With the experience, hopefully I’ll keep getting better at it and continue to help the Sabres as long as I can.”
A change in the Sabres’ ownership and philosophy last year is at least partially responsible for Gellert’s promotion to a full-time position.
Since Terry Pegula bought the team, Buffalo has boosted its scouting staff from nine to 20 employees.
As a full-time scout, Gellert is travelling considerably more than he did in previous years, covering the WHL in Western Canada as well as the junior A leagues in the west, including the BCHL.
He’ll also be taking trips this season to Ontario, Quebec and Europe.
Gellert’s main focus is scouting 1995-born talent, evaluating those players who are available for the 2013 NHL entry draft.
As far as his credentials are concerned, Sabres assistant GM Kevin Devine said Gellert’s overall experience in the game is an asset to the NHL club.
“With his European background, with the skills work he does with the Kelowna Rockets, and his knowledge of the B.C. league, it all ties in pretty well,” said Devine. ” He has a pretty good view of what a kids brings to a team. He’s a great guy and good hockey guy and he’s helped us a lot in this area in the past. He helped bring (Sabres defenceman) Tyler Myers to our attention, so that’s certainly a positive, too.”
After playing junior in his native Ontario and later at Lake Superior State, Gellert went on to a successful playing career in Italy, scoring more than 700 goals and winning six scoring titles over 16 seasons.
Then after five seasons as a coach in Italy, Gellert decided to settle down with his family in Kelowna for good in 1995.
A golf teaching pro during the summers, Gellert joined the Rockets as their skills coach in the summer of 2005, a job he continues to enjoy to this day.
“You see young guys come in who are pretty raw, you see their weaknesses, so it’s pretty rewarding to be able to work with them, help them improve and see them progress as players,” said Gellert. “It’s nice to be able to work with the coaching staff we have, too. Ryan (Huska), Dan Lambert and Kim Dillabaugh are all so good at what they do, and they’re great guys to be around.”