by Dan Adkisson
Every rookie hockey player dreams of reaching the professional leagues, but only the most hardworking reap the rewards and get the opportunity to show off their skills in front of millions. The professional world of hockey is just like any other sport – getting signed to a team, negotiating sponsorship deals, earning bragging rights, and facing off against longstanding rivals. However, professional hockey life doesn’t last forever, with the average player stepping down in their 30s. The question is, what do they do after their professional player time is up?
Retirement Isn’t Easy
Before we get into what hockey players do after retirement, it’s important to note that making the change is never easy. Professionals spend an awful lot of time in the rink improving their skills, attending meetings, and playing matches. Unfortunately, when professional ice hockey players retire, they struggle to find fulfilment in life because of the way their former career was structured.
Alongside the feeling of unfulfillment, many ice hockey players are so immersed in their careers that there’s little time for family and hobbies, meaning their former interests feel like a distant memory. Therefore, a pro ice hockey player is left standing at the start of a journey to find themselves.
Many retired professionals choose to remain within the world of ice hockey, as their career is much more than a job for them. Even though they aren’t playing games professionally, there are plenty of career opportunities within the sport.
Coaching is one of the most obvious routes for an ex-professional player to take, as new players might as well learn from the best. Further, players can step up to the mantle and manage a hockey team, which helps them shape the future of the sport. Alternatively, a retired ice hockey player can work directly with players as an agent.
The Pursuit of Hobbies
Playing ice hockey in a professional capacity involves an impressive salary, especially at the elite end of the game. Therefore, some players don’t feel the need to explore other avenues of work. Instead, they spend time exploring hobbies that they lost touch with.
Greg Mueller, for example, retired from ice hockey in 1999 and turned his focus to the poker tables instead. During his time playing poker, Mueller was a runner-up in two World Series of Poker tournaments. If you want to make like Mueller, who’s amassed over $2 million playing professionally, you can practice your skills at a casino; here are some of the best ones in Ontario.
Alternative Lines of Work
Despite enjoying the ice hockey spotlight, many retirees turn their back on the sport completely and find alternative careers, which they may have missed out on. In the case of Sean Avery, he ventured into modelling and restaurant ownership. Avery isn’t alone in the restaurant business, as Canadian players Marcel Dionne and the late Guy Lafleur both owned restaurants after retiring.
Stepping away from professional hockey sometimes means heading to university to learn new skills and increase employability. For example, former Washington Capitals goaltender Clint Malarchuk retired in 1996 and became a veterinary technician, and he even opened his own horse dentistry business.
Every ice hockey player will hold their time in the rink fondly, but they need to find value in life once their time is up. The most important part of this journey is seeking happiness, which looks different to everyone. Perhaps they simply wish to spend time with family or maybe they want to explore alternative lines of work – the most important part is that they are satisfied with life’s offerings.