Dear Former NHL Team Colleagues,
Let me start by saying I miss you. I had a nice six-year run as a team employee and I met a lot of fantastic people along the way, many of whom worked for other teams. Those of us who worked in “non-traditional” markets shared a special bond that allowed us to simultaneously bitch about and be envious of the Canucks and the other marketing superpowers who could throw whatever they wanted on their sites and still have sponsors banging down their doors to give them money for it (seriously though- the Canucks staff is incredible).
I miss you, and I feel for you. I started working for the Thrashers right after the 2004-05 lockout ended and I finished up just as my Atlanta Hawks co-workers were preparing for the NBA lockout. I never had the displeasure of dealing with a lockout myself, although I did get the special experience of relocation rumors, announcements, and layoffs.
Because of that experience I have good news for you.
There’s life (and jobs) outside of the NHL. If your hours have been reduced or eliminated because of the lockout and you’re pondering whether to stick it out until the puck drops again or move on to something else, know that the something else option is probably better than you expect it to be.
As fun as working for a team is (and it was a dream job for me), the hours are awful, the pay is terrible, and few employees are valued because EVERYONE can be replaced in a heartbeat. I knew enough people who worked for other teams to know that I’m not just projecting my former situation onto all teams. The Thrashers’ owners may have had a reputation for being cheap, but when it came to team office staff salaries they had plenty of company.
Outside of sports the pay is better, the hours are better, and the result of a hockey game won’t ruin your night or your week. If you get out of hockey you’ll miss it, but you’ll also discover that there are other things to do from 7-11 every night, especially if you have a significant other and/or kids.
You’ll also find that people are sympathetic to your plight, and that having pro sports on your resume opens plenty of doors, even in unrelated fields. It makes you stand out from other candidates, and if you’re moving on because of millionaires and billionaires fighting over record profits people will understand. I’m not ashamed to admit that I milked the Thrashers relocation for everything it was worth when I was looking for work, and it helped. If you’re looking for a change I suggest you do the same.
Since being pushed out of hockey I’ve had more time to spend with my wife, my kids, and my friends. I was fortunate to land a 9-5 job with no weekend or evening work from home, and I’ve never been happier, despite missing being part of a team. If you move on from the game you love I promise you that it can end up well.
So for all of you dealing with uncertainty of this mess of a lockout, good luck. I hope your owners are treating you well, and if not it might be time to look at other options.
Your Former Colleague