Full-time trash hauler builds NHL franchise in spare time

Dan Shrader, of Prior Lake, Minn., was likely out picking up the trash this morning. It’s his full-time job. He’s old school. He has to get out of the truck at each stop and dump the barrels by hand.

Between a few stops, he helps build one of the best franchises in the National Hockey League, the Grand Forks Herald says in a fascinating profile today.

Shrader, 38, is an amateur scout for the Winnipeg Jets.

How did he get to such a lofty status? As with most success stories, it started with a blog. A Minnesota Wild fan back in 2011, he started a blog — First Round Bust — to rate players his team could select in the draft. The next season, he started attending more high school games, and blogged and tweeted about what he saw.

Bigger blogs picked up his stuff, while Shrader kept picking up yours.

The Jets reached the Western Conference Final a year ago. They played some playoff games without a single free-agent acquisition in the lineup.

The Jets were well aware that Shrader had a non-traditional background and that he never played organized hockey growing up. They didn’t care.

“Just because you didn’t play doesn’t mean you don’t know the game,” said Heisinger, the assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. “I think you’d really be handicapping yourself if you didn’t look outside the realm of ex-players. There are a lot of ex-players you would never hire. There are guys who never played who you would hire.

“That’s not something we focus on, whether you did or didn’t play. We focus on whether you have a good eye.”

Shrader has a good eye.

His conference calls can cause problems with his job, the Herald says. Once, when it was his turn to dump the truck’s contents at the landfill, it was also his turn to make his report on the scouting call. But this is the state of hockey; trash can wait.

“There’s one of about 350 jobs like it in the world,” Shrader tells the paper. “I’m absolutely privileged to do what I do. I like doing it. There’s a thrill in finding a player you like. There’s the thrill of the chase.”