Archive for June, 2015

2015Jun 26

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final: Scott Rodgers

Rodgers ProfileScott Rodgers (SPAD’14) is Manager, In-Game Communications, at the NHL. While Scott wasn’t involved in the Finals, he was able to give us some insight into his job with NHL and took the time to offer up some advice to future SPAD Grads. Scott was also recently recognized with a distinguished award. Scott was awarded the 2015 Young Achievers Initiative award by the University of Toronto Sports and Business Association.

SPADblog: Thanks for sitting down with us Scott. Can you tell us briefly what your job entails and how you ended up where you are?

Scott Rodgers: In October of 2014, I competed a five-month internship in partnership marketing with the League and was fortunate to get on board as a Manager, In-Game Communications for the 2014-15 season.

The position is based out of Toronto in the Situation Room, which is the League’s centralized video replay room. The room is principally occupied by members of hockey operations and a Manager, In-Game Communications acts as a liaison to help deliver messaging to media and fans for video reviews, rule explanations and game operations issues.

Some other duties include providing relevant statistics and game information in editorial notes to promote positive storylines around the League, as well as utilizing the NHL Public Relations Twitter handle (@PR_NHL) as an outlet to deliver this information to fans.

NHL Tweet

NHL Tweet 2





SB: It sounds like a great job for such a recent graduate. How did you enjoy your experience?

SR: I really enjoyed my first season with the League and did my best to learn about the execution of games, as well as the real-time technology and decision-making hierarchy that accompany any given night in the NHL. It was also great to work alongside the members of hockey operations – many of whom have played in the League – as well as the in-game social media team, which includes fellow SPAD graduate Chris Ackroyd.


SB: While you weren’t involved in the Final, I know that you were very active during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Are there any experiences that stand out that you can share with us?

SR: I took away several highlights from the season, but my two most memorable ones came during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs where I covered the longest game in Chicago Blackhawks franchise history and witnessed the second-fastest three goals scored by one team in the postseason via the Anaheim Ducks.


SB: Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I’m sure that there will be a number of students reading this who are thinking that they would like to follow in your footsteps. Do you have any advice for them?

SR: The advice I give to current SPAD students is to treat every opportunity as a learning experience and a catalyst to whatever the next step in your career might be, as you have nothing to lose by working hard. While writing ability and attention to detail is crucial in any discipline, I would also strongly recommend developing familiarity with the Associated Press Stylebook for any students looking to pursue a career in the communications side of sport.


Thanks so much Scott for talking with us and I’m sure you’re an inspiration to all future SPAD Grads. Congratulations on the recent award and best wishes on the rest of what’s bound to be a successful career.

2015Jun 24

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final: Chris Ackroyd

Acky ProfileChris Ackroyd (SPAD’12) is the In-Game Social Media Coordinator for the NHL. Many of us were undoubtedly following his tweets and posts throughout the season, as well as during the playoffs. We’re thrilled that Chris has taken some time to answer a few of our questions and to fill us in on some of the behind-the-scenes activities that took place during the Final.
SPADblog: Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell us a bit about your job with the NHL?
Chris Ackroyd: My title is In-Game Social Media Coordinator, managing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and sometimes other platforms. During the season, I spend most nights and weekends in the Situation Room in Toronto, monitoring anywhere from 1-12 games simultaneously. My job is to monitor and curate all the video, photo, and news content that is created and to then write copy and distribute through the appropriate channels. I consider myself to be a storyteller, making sure the excitement and passion that is going on in 30 arenas is shared with our fans in a way that they can relate to. The tricky part of my role, specifically during the season, is that much of what I do is reactive. We could have a 10-game night in which there are two hat tricks, three shutouts and countless highlight reel goals, or we could have two 2-1 games with a reviewed goal and a bank-in. When the content is week, I have to work harder to write strong copy that sells the highlights, because the clips and photos don’t always speak for themselves.
SB: Does your job change during the Final? If so, how?
CA: During the Final (with no s, since I have to be a stickler for grammar), there’s only one show going on, and many more events and activities to capture. As a result, I spent the last two weeks between Tampa Bay and Chicago acquiring the best footage to share. Instead of sitting in the Situation Room, I set up shop in the press box to perform my in-game duties. The rest of the days consisted of meeting with our creative team to ensure our graphics were produced, planning our editorial content with the team, and capturing as much unique footage as we could around the cities and arenas, primarily for Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
SB: As a high school student with a lot of options, what made you choose to come north to SPAD?
CA: Beyond the natural answer of combining passions and the uniqueness of the program, I realized that if I wanted to spend my life in hockey, I would have to pull the plug on the pipe dream of playing and get to work exploring other avenues as soon as possible. I decided to study my way into the game, and opened up a second avenue by focusing my on-ice efforts on officiating in the NOJHL, missing plenty of pub nights to drive to Blind River or Manitoulin Island for a single game. I knew that if Sudbury wasn’t right for me that there were other options out there, but after about a month with the program and my new friends, I knew I’d be spending four years in SPAD.
SB: You learned a lot while you were here and we’re wondering what it was that you learned that most helped you in your current job.
CA: For me specifically, having a background in social media from a sports perspective was unique and extremely beneficial.
SB: On top of working hard and taking advantage of opportunities in the program can you tell us how important networking and the SPAD network was to you getting where you are today?
CA: Through a friend, SPAD alumni, and now colleague (Jan Egert), I caught wind of a part-time opening that was a combination of PR and social media with the NHL. Not realizing it, the person I would be working alongside was someone who I had officiated with in the GTA, and so I was able to establish clout early on. I interviewed for a few weeks and was ultimately successful in landing the position. For the 2014-15 season, the in-game PR and social media duties were spilt, and I moved to primarily covering in-game social.
SB: What do you think were skills, knowledge, or experiences that you possessed that most helped you achieve career success?
CA: Being eager to get involved and meeting as many people as possible. The more successful individuals you have as friends, the more likely you are to create opportunities for yourself. Your first job may not be “the one” (and my first wasn’t), but if you truly want to be involved in any sport, you need to always be looking for new and exciting opportunities.
SB: Is there anything you’ve learned in your young career that you think could be useful to pass on to current SPAD students?
CA: So much of the professional world, and more specifically sport, has to do with relationships. It’s a fact that’s repeated over and over, and people want to work with people they know and trust, either indirectly or through others. I’ve had casual conversations with coworkers who have asked “who was your connection to get into the League?”. I’ve also been able to submit recommendations for other SPAD grads who work with the NHL.
The other key piece of advice I would give is to keep mindful of the fact that very few career paths travel in a straight line, so if you’re passionate about a sport or an industry, embed yourself in as many ways as possible. For me, the passion was officiating. While it isn’t directly tied to my work with the League, my knowledge of the game is at times a resource for Hockey Ops, while in return I have access to insight from some of the best officials in the world. The more you can bring to the table, the easier it is to help and to be helped.
SB: Chris, we’ll often hear from student about how they want to work in the sports industry because they are huge fans of the sport or a team. Is it hard to go from being a fan to a professional in the industry?
CA: Naturally, most League employees are huge hockey fans, but it’s incredibly important to separate fandom from work. I’ve been fortunate to have access to any and every corner of several facilities, and my team is in a tricky position because we’re the only people permitted to capture photos and videos with our cell phones. As a result, it’s easy to abuse the privilege, so being respectful of everyone involved in the game is important. Over time you (unfortunately) get used to seeing any and everyone, but there’s always a new cool moment that you wish you could capture beyond just making it a memory.
SB: I’m sure you had some pretty incredibly moments as a fan and professional during the Final (not Finals). Are there any that you think might be fun to share with our readers?
CA: I’ve got a cool SPAD Blog moment – I was in the media elevator prior to Game 6 in Chicago, and I saw a name that rang a bell on someone’s credential beside me — Kyle Davidson. as the elevator was going up I quickly pulled out my phone and hit to make sure it was the guy I thought it might be. I confirmed, then introduced myself quickly before we took our respective spots for the game. After Chicago won the Cup and the party was going on, I saw Kyle on the ice and was able to congratulate him on the victory while realizing that two of the youngest people that were ‘working’ as the Stanley Cup got passed around were both SPAD grads.
Winter Classic
My coolest moment beyond the Stanley Cup Final was during the Winter Classic, when I was on the roof of Nationals Park during the anthem and F-16 flyover as pyrotechnics were going off all around me. Meanwhile, I was trying to take photos and videos while not dropping my phone into the crowd below.
Naturally, the last bit would be where I remind everyone that you can follow our stories at ‘@NHL’ and ’nhl’ on all major social platforms — I’ll be covering the Draft on June 26/27 and we’ll have some cool content to share. I also have some stories about serendipitous events that led me to the Blackhawks’ Cup party the following night, but I’m not sure the internet is the place to discuss them.
Thanks so much Chris. I’m sure all our readers enjoyed hearing about your job and experiences. It’s also great to hear that the SPAD network is alive and well (and reuniting at centre ice when the Stanley Cup is being awarded). It’s great grads like you that inspire our future grads. I’m sure many of them will be reaching out to you…especially to hear about the extra-curricular fun that sounds like you were involved in. Thanks again and enjoy the Draft.


2015Jun 10

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final: Kyle Davidson

ChicagoBlackhawksLogoKyle Davidson (SPAD’10) is the Coordinator, Hockey Administration for the Chicago Blackhawks. His life is a bit of a blur right now with his team in the Stanley Cup Final and he also has many responsibilities relating to the draft and free agency that all happen within a couple of weeks of the end of the season. With all that’s on his plate right now, we really appreciate him taking some time to stop and chat with us a bit about his role, his career, and helpful advice that he wanted to pass on to future sport professionals.


SPADblog: Hi Kyle. It’s always great to catch up with you and we really appreciate you taking some time away from your busy schedule. I was wondering if you might be able to fill us in a bit on what your job entails.

Kyle Davidson: My job title is Coordinator, Hockey Administration.  The main responsibilities that I oversee are daily salary cap management, player contract research, compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, administration with the NHL’s Central Registry, and executing team transactions (trades, recalls, assignments, etc.). I am also involved in strategic planning for upcoming seasons with a specific focus on our salary cap spending.  Additionally, while it’s not a specific part of my job description the Blackhawks have been very fortunate in providing me the opportunity to scout and write reports on games I see in the AHL, CHL, NCAA, and USHL.


SB: It sounds like a great deal of responsibility for such a recent grad, particularly when you think that you got the job about a year after you graduated. Can you tell us how you got to where you currently are?

KD: I’ve always tried to stay active in hockey, whether it be helping as an Assistant Equipment Manager with the Sudbury Jr. Wolves (NOJHL) or as a Game Day Intern with the Sudbury Wolves (OHL).  I was also fortunate enough to help out on a couple draft days with the Sudbury Wolves which gave me great insight into that management side of the operation.  My fourth year internship with SPAD ended up being with the Ottawa Senators, helping to run the Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament.

My current experience with the Chicago Blackhawks began with an internship in the Hockey Operations Department in November of 2010 and from there I was able to take on more responsibility as it became available with the departures of some of our Assistant General Managers who took jobs as GMs with other teams (Kevin Cheveldayoff in Winnipeg and Marc Bergevin in Montreal).  Since the Spring of 2011 I’ve been in the same position that I am today as the Coordinator of Hockey Administration.


SB: What are the most important things you learned while in SPAD?

KD: I would say that the most important thing I learned at SPAD was the level of dedication and time it takes to be successful in the sports industry.  It’s not a field that you will excel in with a simple 9-5 attitude towards your work.  It’s literally a 24/7 endeavor and you have to go into it with a full understanding of what it will take to succeed.  The best examples of where I learned this were when I was part of the group helped organize the SPAD Hockey Tournament and through my internship in 4th year with the Ottawa Senators.  They were both eye opening experiences that brought to light the high level of dedication required to get the job done right.



SB: What do you think were skills, knowledge, or experiences that you possessed that most helped you achieve career success?

KD: I’d say my passions for the game of hockey and to keep learning about hockey have been the most influential forces on my professional career.  It’s something that makes going to the office everyday an easy thing to do. During the regular season (October- April) I try to see as many different games, in as many different leagues in order to continuously grow my knowledge of the game and learn what makes players and teams successful.  Without that passion for hockey and my thirst for new knowledge, I don’t think I’d be able to reconcile the fact that I’m giving up my all of my evenings and weekends in order to go scout games and do work.  At this early point in my career, I believe that I have a very strong, unique knowledge base but my passion to keep learning is something that keeps me wanting to take on more responsibility and scout more games.


SB: This is your second Stanley Cup Final and I was wondering how does your job changes during the Final?

KD: There really isn’t much of a change in my job specifically because we are in the Final.  The time of year is more of a determining factor in what types of tasks I’m focusing on.  At this time of year my focus shifts to player contract research (getting ready for contract negotiations with our pending UFA and RFA players), as well as preparations and meetings that lead up to the NHL Draft at the end of June.  The Draft is a very busy time in terms of player movement/acquisition, so preparation is crucial in order to be ready for such a face paced environment.


SB: This is the third Final in six years for the Blackhawks. As an organization is there something that you’ve learned from the other Finals that informs decisions you make now?

KD: This is actually only my second Final.  My career has been so short that during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final I was still studying for exams and watching the games at home in Sudbury with fellow 2010 SPAD Grad, Pierre Huneault.  I would say that I’ve learned to appreciate the ride a bit more this time around.  In 2013, everything was so new and exciting that it was a complete blur.  I wasn’t entirely oblivious to the magnitude of the ride I was on, but you definitely become insulated from it.  I’m a little more aware of what’s going on and how special it is during these playoffs.


SB: Aside from the pride and thrill of victory, how does winning the Stanley Cup impact you in your role with the team?

KD: There isn’t really a direct impact that it has on my specific role with the team, but there is a definite time crunch that comes into play since the majority of your contract and salary cap preparation for the next season happens from the end of the season until the end of the draft.  As I experienced in 2013, all of the fun things that come with winning take away from the time you would otherwise be getting work done. It’s all a great “problem” to have.


SB: We really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. But before we go, I was wondering if there is something that you’ve learned during your career that you think could be useful to pass on to current SPAD students?

KD: Getting into the sports field is not something that you can enter into just because you’ve grown up a fan of a particular sport.  Speaking for my position, there are so many hours required of you during your personal time and outside of games/ regular office hours that simply loving to watch your favourite team play would not be enough to sustain your interest in the job.  The advent of websites like CapGeek have been a great resource for hockey fans but, in turn, have truly over simplified what really happens behind the scenes in getting a team on the ice.  Sometimes, the amount of work required just to get a 7th defenseman eligible to simply sit in the press box as healthy scratch is an all-day endeavor due to the salary cap and CBA regulations that need to be navigated.


Kyle is further evidence that nice guys so often can finish first. He has always given his time to give back to the SPAD program and we really appreciate his time and efforts.  Perhaps his most important contribution though is the role model he has become for future SPAD Grads. Kyle is a perfect example of hard work, strong interpersonal skills, and a lifelong willingness to learn taking you to the peak of success. We wish him all the best during the Final. Thanks again Kyle.



2015Jun 4

SPAD Grads at the Stanley Cup Final

2015StanleyCupFinalsLast night the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup Final. Once again this year SPAD is heavily involved with the Finals. Each of the last three Stanley Cup champions has had a SPAD Grad working in their hockey operations department. It is guaranteed to be the same again this year, as we have a rooting interest in both teams. Ryan Belec (SPAD’00) is the Director of Team Services for the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Kyle Davidson (SPAD’10) is the Coordinator, Hockey Administration and Steve DiLenardi (SPAD’98) is the Senior Manager, Group Sales and Special Projects for the Chicago Blackhawks.

While we are incredibly proud of our grads who are facing off against each other in the Final, the SPAD fingerprint is all over other aspects of the Final. We have SPAD Grads working on the broadcasting side, some in the NHL head office, while many others are heavily involved as sponsors and corporate partners. Over the length of the Final tune in to the SPAD Blog for profiles of SPAD Grads involved with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, interesting stories sent to us from the SPAD family, and even some career advice to those looking to get in to the hockey business, and maybe also reach the pinnacle of success by hoisting the Cup.

If you’re a member of the SPAD Family and  have a story that you want to share about your involvement with the Stanley Cup, please send it along to and we’ll try to include your story in the series of Stanley Cup Final blog stories. Go Lighthawks???