Kids all across Canada and the world have dreamt of playing in the NHL. For those who are fortunate enough to make it, they eventually have to deal with the transition of life after hockey. That transition may have been imposed by age, performance and in some cases injury. With that challenge in mind, a program called ‘Life after the Game’ was formed, which is funded by the NHL, NHLPA and NHL Alumni Association.
Training for a hockey career generally starts early for most, progressing through different paths that could include Major Junior or College Hockey, with the intention of being drafted by an NHL Club. Having successfully navigated through that journey, the average NHL hockey player has just under 5 years or 370 games as a professional hockey player, according to Duncan Fletcher, Executive Director of Life after the Game. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to build a future nest egg.
Fletcher comments that it’s often a misconception that all NHL players are rich. “After taxes and agents fees, there income may not be as great as you think. It’s interesting the number of investment opportunities that come their way through friends and family, during their playing days. We can help the players evaluate the opportunities and always recommend that they do due diligence on the business side of things.”
Once players’ careers have ended, it’s then time to think about how they’ll spend the rest of their lives and for most that means a new career. “Approximately 30% stay involved in some aspect of hockey, while others have take new routes. We’ve seen everything from horse dentists and lawyers to entrepreneurs. Currently about 23% of NHLers have some type of post secondary education, so we support them with educational and career advice,” Fletcher states.
“We generally get inquiries during a player’s last contract. So out of 700 players in the league, we may talk to 50-60 clients per year.”
“This transition for NHL players can have multiple issues that can include everything from changes in finances, daily routines to missing teammates, competition and playing the game. Any time you leave something that you’ve done most of your life, it’s not easy,” Fletcher emphasizes.
Asked why players don’t take advantage of these services earlier in their career, Fletcher responds with a quote from one of his clients, “Why would you want to talk about your own funeral?
Next Article in the series features former NHL’er Paul Ranheim 15 year veteran who’s played for the Calgary Flames, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes.