USA Hockey Magazine

September 2015

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Page 35 of 51

After The 34 PHOTOS BY Getty Images By DEBRA RUGHOO SEPTEMBER. 2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM T he average NHL player enjoys a career that lasts between five and six seasons, with the average retirement age coming at just 28 years old. That means they have a lot of years ahead of them after hanging up their skates. While many stay close to the game as coaches, scouts, agents or broadcasters, others take the road less traveled by pursuing other career paths. One such player is Bryan Smolinski, who skated in more than 1,000 NHL games. After hanging up his jersey in 2010 at age 38, he "shut it down for a couple of years" so he could spend time with his wife and four kids. "I always knew that my life with my fam- ily would really take off after my hockey career ended" said the Toledo, Ohio native, who represented Team USA in two World Cups of Hockey and a pair of IIHF World Championships. "You miss the special times over the years — an Easter here or a Thanksgiving there — and I wanted to get to know my kids a bit more." When his children started going to school full-time though, Smolinski asked him- self, "What am I going to do now?" That's when several friends who own the Doeren Mayhew Insurance Group in the Detroit area offered him a job. Now 43, Smolinski has been working in the insurance field for the past three years, which he says allows him to have a lot of flexibility and freedom. "I have to produce my own engine," he says, meaning he is responsible for drumming up new business. The Michigan State University graduate found that some of the traits that helped him make it to the top level of the game have served him well in the business world, includ- ing the ability to adapt to any situation and to accept criticism. "We have to have thick skin [in hockey]," he points out, because "you're getting yelled at immediately. On top of this, you're the hero or the goat, all in the same game or same moment." In addition, he says that in hockey "you want to fight the battles right away because they are right in front of you. In the outside world though, battles are prolonged. They NHL Players Carry Lessons Learned On The Ice Into New Careers Away From The Rink "TREASURE THE LAST LITTLE BIT THAT'S THERE, BUT ALSO HAVE A VISION WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO BE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW." —BRYAN SMOLINSKI CHEERING Stops

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