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Blues-fullBy Jonathon Jackson

Ian MacLellan has seen a lot of people pass through Owen Sound on their way to the National Hockey League.

Now it's his turn.

MacLellan, the Owen Sound Attack's head scout and assistant general manager, is leaving the Ontario Hockey League franchise for a scouting job with the St. Louis Blues.

Although the veteran hockey man has always dreamed of such an opportunity, it came as a surprise to him.

"I got a phone call about a week-and-a-half ago from the head scout, asking me if I would be interested in putting my hat in the ring for a scouting position with them. I said I sure would," the Newmarket resident said in an interview Wednesday.

"It was out of the blue, with the Blues," he added, laughing.

After talking with Attack GM Dale DeGray, MacLellan decided to go ahead with the interview. He sat down last week with Blues head scout Bill Armstrong, who made the job offer Tuesday.

"Dale knew my ambitions. He knew I wanted to work in the NHL one day," MacLellan said, pointing out it's typical of people in the hockey world to want to keep advancing in their careers.

"Most people in hockey have a very competitive nature about them, as I do. I want to play or I want to scout at the highest level I can get to. That was my goal, to get to the NHL."

He expected to hear later this week about the job, but Armstrong was impressed enough to hire MacLellan a few days early. It turns out the respect is mutual.

"He's the type of guy you really want to work for," MacLellan said of Armstrong. "He makes you feel like you're part of the team after one interview. When you respect the people you work for, it makes the job a whole lot easier.

"The Blues are a great organization. They've got a great franchise and a great history, and we just want to get to the next level."

MacLellan has been with the Attack for 11 years and is tying up some loose ends with the team before beginning his duties with the Blues. He will be responsible for scouting the OHL's Western Conference on behalf of the NHL team.

Given that he's already been working in the Western Conference for more than a decade, the job will be a perfect fit.

"It gets my feet going a little bit quicker, I think, once the season starts," MacLellan said. "All the NHL-draft eligible players this year, I've seen them for a couple of years already. I think I'm helping out St. Louis quite a bit in that regard."

Working in the OHL West means he'll be a frequent visitor to the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, where he may end up steering some of his own prospects toward the show.

That's the kind of thing he has always enjoyed most about scouting. While the Attack's 2011 OHL championship is certainly a career highlight, MacLellan says he is most satisfied when a prospect moves on and succeeds in the professional ranks or at university.

"It's a rewarding position, that's for sure, and Owen Sound is a great franchise with a fantastic ownership group and even more fantastic fans," he said. "The fans are really the key to the organization being so successful.

"It is totally bittersweet (to be leaving). I wish the organization nothing but the best. Anything I can do to help Dale or the staff out in the future, I'm just a phone call away."

"We are thrilled for Ian and his family on this new opportunity," DeGray said in a news release issued by the Attack. "But it's bittersweet for us to see Ian go as he had a large hand in building what we have become. He will certainly be missed."

Preparations for the 2014-15 OHL season continue at the Bayshore, where the Attack's rookie camp is scheduled to begin August 25.


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