It would be simple to take the easy way out and make a play on words using Brandon Prophet’s name, but the fact is that the Saginaw Spirit defender's arrival on Central Scouting’s watch list is less about Divine Providence and more about plain old hard work.
Of course, that work is reflected in a proverb by which he leads his life — and quotes on his Twitter feed, (@Prophet_Hockey3), he references Proverbs 13:11, ‘Wealth gotten by vanity shall diminish: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.’
“Surprised? It’s hard to say. I was happy with the way it stood. I mean it’s definitely very early in the season and I’m happy to be where I am right now,” he said. “Obviously, I’d like to work my way up amongst the very high-end skill players. It’s just a great opportunity and a very exciting time of year.”
So how did Prophet find out about his B-rating on the Central Scouting list? Courtesy of a proud papa and mama.
“To be honest with you, it was my parents,” he said, sheepishly. “I randomly saw an e-mail. I took a look at it and was excited. Right now I just try to worry about hockey and I try not to worry about it too much. I just worry about on-ice stuff.”
That focus on concerning oneself only with what one can control is directly tied to his faith — and his faith in that aforementioned proverb.
“I am a religious person. I like to attend Church. It’s more of a personal quote of my life — it’s something that means a lot to me,” he said. “It basically has stuck with me through many years of hockey and it’s something that I keep to myself. It’s just kind of a reminder to stay true to who I am — to know where you come from and not to let things get in your head or block you from your true goal in life.”
“My priest back home [introduced it to me], during a school mass. We were talking — it came across and I really [latched] onto that and it’s something I’ve really taken hold of.”
When it comes to teenaged boys, religion is rarely the first thing one thinks of. Compound that with the often ribald culture of the hockey world, and being actively religious would seem to be a challenging prospect. Not so, said Prophet.
“Some people think it’s a struggle, but I see it as an opportunity,” he said. “The easiest thing to do is just to stay true to who you are and take things one thing at a time. If you start to worry about things over and over, and keep thinking about them — like this goal, this goal, and this goal — you just need to be who you are and let things happen.
“Take things that you can into your own hands and make the most of the opportunity.”
It’s a philosophy that worked for him last season, as he was named to the OHL’s All-Rookie Team on the blueline following a season that saw him score three goals, add eight assists, and finish +5 after 54 games. He also racked up 53 penalty minutes. He was held scoreless in the playoffs as the Spirit was swept in four games by the London Knights. So far, in five games to open this season, he’s accounted for two assists and is a -2 on a squad that’s 1-4 after five games.
“That was definitely an honour being named to that team. Moving forward, just like anything else, just having a year under my belt and the experience I gained last year — I just want to carry that forward and progress forward with the team,” he said. “Basically, this year I want to jump up in the play when the opportunity arises. I want to take care of things in my own end — be worried about my own end first and the opportunities will definitely come.”
While the Spirit has brought in some veteran talent like overager Justin Sefton, Prophet said he’s looking to play a key role on Saginaw’s blueline, a unit that’s still in the process of defining who it is.
“We have some new guys this year; we’ve brought in some young guys and we’ve obviously brought in a few older guys as well,” he said. “Overall it’s a good balance. It’s still early in the year and we’re trying to figure things out. I think we’re going to be very strong in the defensive end.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s early in the year and we’re only going to get better. Right now we’re just implementing our systems and working some things out and we’re going to keep improving.”
“Patter, he’s a world-renowned goalie. He’s great. It’s definitely good to have him behind you,” Prophet said. “It creates peace of mind, but you still want to be aware on the ice, have a good defensive presence, and jump up when you get the opportunity.
As he enters into his draft-eligible season, Prophet said he’s set improvement goals for himself.
“Honestly, I’d like to be a more well-rounded player. I’d like to increase my offensive ability, but I don’t want to forget about the things that I learned last year,” he said. “I want to be able to keep my good defensive play in my own end and jump up into the play should the opportunity arise.”
And does that include taking on more of a leadership role? “That’d be nice. I just need to be who I am and not really worry about the names on the team,” Prophet explained. “I need to be who I am and be my own leader. Everyone on the team is a leader in their own way.”
The added responsibility on the ice has been combined with added attention off of it. The scouts are out there, but — referring back again to the proverb — Prophet said he can only focus on what he can control.
“My philosophy on that is to not worry about anything off the ice. On the ice, take the opportunity that comes to me and make the most of what I get right now,” he said. “I try not to worry about things off the ice too much. What you can control you do to the best of your ability and then you let things fall and play the way they’re supposed to.”
That doesn’t represent a fatalistic attitude, but rather a belief in reaping what you sow.
“The only thing you can really worry about is working as hard as you can and being the best person you can be,” Prophet explained. “I personally believe that success comes from being a good person off the ice as well as on the ice. That will all transfer over.”
Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard