2017Nov 14

Q & A With SPAD Grad Ben Goodman

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standingBen Goodman recently graduated from SPAD in June 2017. Ben worked very hard while at Laurentian. He was involved with the men’s varsity hockey team, scouted for the Saginaw Spirit, and had a part-time job, all while being a successful SPAD student. In his summers he worked non-stop with the Carnevale Hockey Group which is a summer hockey league that hosts many top prospects from around Ontario. He has been consumed by hockey his whole life, and was rewarded for his hard work with an internship with the Ottawa Senators in 2016/17. He did so well in Ottawa that he secured himself a full time position with the Belleville Senators who are in their first season since moving from Binghamton. I had the chance to interview Ben and pick his brain on some of his internship, and work experiences from his young career.

DC: What was the decision making process like when choosing where to do your internship?

BG: I actually only applied for the one that I did with the Ottawa Senators. I knew since first year that I wanted to do an internship in the NHL and that I wanted to open up the possibility of working for a full season. The communications internship for the Sens is usually posted earlier than most fall internships, so I was able to submit my resume and go to Ottawa to do my interview before I even saw any other opportunities. That’s not to say that I wasn’t preparing to apply at a few other places that I had heard offered good internships, but once I was given the offer I had to say yes. Being able to work with NHL players, coaches and management on a daily basis was exactly what I was looking for, and my supervisor ended up giving me the option to stay for the full season and playoffs; it was a perfect fit.

DC: How did working with the Carnevale Hockey Group and the Laurentian men’s hockey team prepare you for your internship with the Senators?

BG: Wow—where do I even start. My experiences at both CHG and working for the Voyageurs were absolutely invaluable and I would not be where I am now without having worked at both of those places. Clay Leibel (SPAD grad and former NHL scout) got me in with the Carnevale Hockey Group during the summer after first year. It allowed me to connect with agents, scouts, coaches and GM’s in the OHL, which eventually helped get me a scouting job with the Saginaw Spirit for one season under GM Dave Drinkill (SPAD grad). It’s a crazy work environment because it’s the largest junior summer hockey league in Canada (30 teams); I needed to learn how to pay attention to detail, how to plan and prepare, and how to manage and meet expectations. Frank Carnevale (owner of CHG) had a Image result for BEN GOODMAN OTTAWA SENATORSgreat influence on me because he always expected the best, and he knew what I was capable of. He pushed me to be better every weekend, and although it was tough leaving when I got a full-time job with Belleville, he was the first to congratulate me because he wanted me to get to the professional level. My three seasons with Laurentian’s men’s team prepared me by allowing me to experience what it’s like to work and travel with a team. In USPORT there is so much opportunity as a student trying to work in hockey because there’s always something you can help with. (Head Coach) Craig Duncanson gave me more responsibility every season; from starting as a game day ops volunteer, to being the Video Coach, to taking on a team services/media relations position in third year, I was always eager to do more, and in turn I learned more. Some of the things that I did for the Voyageurs were things that I did in my internship and even my job today, too. The main thing from LU that helped me in my internship (and in my job now) was the demanding schedule; not having weekends or reading weeks off in addition to travelling every other week while being a sports administration student and juggling a part-time job at the gym provided me with a need to manage my time properly. In professional hockey you can sometimes go over two weeks without a day off, so you need to know how to get things done with limited time rest. I’m glad that my schedule was hectic and stressful sometimes, because the truth is that professional hockey is the same in that regard.

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Image may contain: 1 person, suitDC: As a communications intern, what were your weekly duties with the Senators?

BG: As the Sens communications intern I was responsible for setting up morning press conferences every game/practice day, writing the team’s weekly prospect report, updating parts of the official game notes and many other media-related tasks. I also was responsible for helping with any non-Senators events at the Canadian Tire Centre. I worked various concerts/shows, a World Cup of Hockey exhibition game, the annual Capital Hoops game and a few other special events. Since I wanted to eventually work in the hockey operations side of the business, I would always offer extra help to our GM and Assistant GM with anything they needed as well.

DC: What were your responsibilities on Senators game days?

BG: On game days there were 101 things to do–I’m serious. I had to make a four page list on a word document that I’d print off every game day to make sure I didn’t miss anything. They were mostly small tasks, but they were all very important to making sure the game day ran smoothly and it only got busier throughout the playoff run. I would bring stats and game notes to our coaches and the visiting team coaches while distributing credentials to all of the media (which by the Eastern Conference Finals could be as many as 150 people) every morning. I’d meet with the visiting team’s communications representative to give them passes for their staff as well as help with any additional things they required. I was responsible for setting up the press box; anything from labelling the broadcast booths to pushingImage may contain: 1 person, suit in chairs, I had to be sure that it was ready for a hockey game. Before the game started I was in charge of running the media meal and assigning our game day media volunteers different tasks throughout the building. During the intermissions I would run stats to both coaching staffs as as well as any media at arena level. Post-game I would print the final game report booklet and distribute it to the visiting team as well as our coaches and management. The day would start early and end late, but I absolutely loved it. I was lucky enough to work 50 NHL games during my nine month internship, and I was very fortunate to work with a team that had so much success despite such adversity throughout the season.

DC: What key relationships were built within the Senators organization, and with whom?

BG: Every relationship that I made in Ottawa was and still is “key” because I’m fortunate enough to still work in the organization—from the scouts to the coaches to the players and management; a lot of people have helped me get to where I am now. I think it goes without saying that Randy Lee (Assistant GM of Ottawa and GM of Belleville) has been an integral part of my very young career in hockey. From early on in my internship I offered to do extra work for him and because of that he allowed me to be involved in the early days of making the AHL move to Belleville official. Randy not only continues to be a mentor to me after my internship, but he’s actually my boss now–which is kind of cool because it’s usually the other way around. Pierre Dorion (GM of Ottawa) and Sean McCauley (Coordinator, Hockey Operations of Ottawa) have also been terrific resources to my ongoing education of how professional hockey teams are managed, and I value my relationship with them greatly as well.

DC: How did your internship prepare you to work with the Belleville Senators?

BG: There are plenty of reasons why my internship in Ottawa prepared me for my current job, but if I had to give you one word to describe my answer, it would be professionalism. The people who work in the NHL, no matter what they do or what their position is, they’re there because they’re professionals; being in an environment for nine months where everyone you work with is one of the best (if not the best) at what they do, you start recognizing the reasons why.  Throughout my internship I tried my best to mirror at least one thing from everyone I worked with that I thought would make me a better professional. By the time that the opportunity came up in Belleville, I believed that I could make an impact and contribute to the new AHL team due to what I learned in my internship.

DC: As Coordinator of Team Services with Belleville what are your duties and responsibilities?

BG: Team Services involves a very broad spectrum of daily and monthly tasks, especially at the AHL level. My main responsibilities include team travel; so booking hotels, flights, buses, meals etc. while working with my Head Coach to organize the team’s schedule. I’m also responsible for executing transactions to and from Belleville between Ottawa, Brampton (our ECHL development partner) and other ECHL teams. I play an integral role in the recall and re-assignment process when it comes to getting players to and from where they need to go when they are being sent to a different team. I also have signing authority for PTO’s and ATO’s (professional try out and amateur try out agreements) as well as AHL standard player’s contracts. One of my biggest tasks of the year is planning and organizing training camp at the beginning of the season. My team services colleague in Ottawa, Jordan Silmser (SPAD grad), has been a terrific help for me in learning all of the ins anImage may contain: 1 person, smilingd outs of my job—there is a lot of day-to-day stuff like player ticket requests, applying for or renewing work permits on players’ behalf, setting up call-up or try out players in hotels, and many other tasks that allow the team to function. I see my job’s main purpose as trying to do as much as I can to let the coaches coach and the players play—they shouldn’t have to worry about anything else on a game day. Aside from my main responsibilities, I also help with media availability and act as the communications contact while on the road, since I travel with the team all the time and our communications staff don’t. I also contribute to Ottawa by pro scouting using the NHL team’s RinkNet service—I write reports on players that we play against that can be used when evaluating potential trades or free agent signings by Pierre Dorion, Randy Lee and Ottawa’s pro scouting staff.

DC: You grew up in the Toronto area, so what is it like working for a rival organization?

BG: I love it. If you’re making the assumption that because I grew up 15 minutes from the Air Canada Centre that I was once a Leafs fan, you’d be right. But, the truth is that my experience in Ottawa changed my professional life, and with it, my affiliation. The day I started working for Ottawa, I became a Senators fan—the hockey operations group in Ottawa and Belleville is like a family, and it’s one that I’m proud to be a part of. With the experience that I’ve had in pro hockey already, I’ve realized very quickly that if you enjoy the people you work with and the job that you have, you want to cheer for those people and you want to cheer for yourself. For all of my childhood I was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs for no other reason than the fact that I grew up in Toronto—but when Ottawa’s season opener started against the Leafs last year, for the first time in my life I could truly say “this is my team”…and I wasn’t talking about the guys in blue and white. I have no impact on the Maple Leafs—I’ve never worked for them and they certainly don’t need me to function. I’ve already seen Nick Paul, Jack Rodewald, Ben Harpur, Thomas Chabot, Christian Jaros and Max McCormick get called up this season. I work with those guys, and I see them every day. It’s fun seeing them go to Ottawa to get a chance to play at the highest level. I am relied upon to do my job and help our team so we can develop these players into NHLers. I’m closer to the Senators than I ever was to the Leafs as a fan.

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