“I think first and foremost, wanting to ‘Work In Sports’, is something we’ve all sort of grown up wanting to do,” says Brad Treliving, the President of the Central Hockey League.
Brad knew that when his playing days were over, he wanted to remain close the game he loved. “In my case, I played hockey and knew that at some point, my playing career was going to come to an end. This was my passion. I wanted to be involved in this industry. At some point, some way and some how, I wanted to make sure I could do that.”
After a professional career that started with the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds of the East Coast Hockey League and ended with the New Haven and Prince Edward Island Senators of the American Hockey League, Treliving was instrumental in the startup of the Central Hockey League, including a merger in 2001 with the Western Professional Hockey League.
“I was playing professionally and after the 1993-94 season, I came back and was living in Vancouver. I talked to Rick Kozuback, an old coach of mine that I had played for in Junior Hockey,” said Treliving.
“At that point, he (Kozuback) was looking at a couple of things. He wanted to either starting a franchise or putting together a group to buy a franchise, whether it was in the East Coast Hockey League or the American Hockey League. We had talked a little bit about that and he wanted me to look at a couple of arenas since I had played in some of the venues for comparisons. That led to us going to a group of investors that were potentially looking to fund the purchase of a minor league team.”
Kozuback was living in Phoenix when he and Treliving started putting together the concept of buying a team. Kozuback had just finished coaching the Phoenix Roadrunners who, at that time, were the affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings in the National Hockey League.
“After discussing the project with the investors, it basically took a whole different turn. That was, ‘why don’t we look at doing our own league?’ The investors were all for it and over the next couple of months we put together a bit of a business plan to look at the feasibility of putting a new league together.”
Despite the fact that the CHL has expanded primarily eastward, Treliving says the convenience of Phoenix makes Arizona a great place to have the league headquarters. “We have considered moving further east, but Phoenix is a very convenient and easy airport to get in and out of and does not present any problems, and we really enjoy it here.”
Treliving stresses that you can never have enough knowledge when pursuing a career in the sports industry. “My thoughts to people that are looking to ‘Work in Sports’, is to educate yourself as much as possible with as much of the industry as you can.”
Additionally, Brad added that you should have a wide scope on what you are willing to do. “Sometimes, people get a little bit narrow minded and they want to be in operations, want to coach or want to be in a specific department. This is fine and those are things people should pursue, but make sure you learn as much as possible about as many different areas of the industry as you can.”
The desire to learn from both successes and failures are also key ingredients to a long and successful career in sports, and Brad says he is always open to learn more.
“Call people you know to set up even an informal interview. Ask questions and learn as much as you possibly can. I still find myself very much, a sponge for information. Networking is very important. It really comes down to how much desire you have. Those who work the hardest seemingly have the most success. I think there is so much you can learn by going out and speaking to people.”
Finally, Brad says not to focus solely on what works, but to take an interest in what doesn’t as well. “Asking the ones you are learning from about their bad experiences can teach you a lot as well. Sometimes you’ll learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.”