The NHL research and development camp is something of a hockey laboratory. During the event, experiments will be run to test new rules as well as up-and-coming prospects.
And, as it turns out, the mad scientist pulling the strings and hitting the switches happens to be probable Hall of Fame power forward Brendan Shanahan. To extend the analogy, the camp might just be an experiment that will test another hypothesis: that Shanahan could have a future as an NHL executive.
After all, Bettman hired Shanahan with dual purposes in mind: to tap into Shanahan’s passion for hockey and unique expertise, and to give Shanahan an experience that would be “like going to business school for him.”
While working on the game, Shanahan is researching, developing and orientating himself. Not long after he started his new job in December, Shanahan marveled at the logistics required to run a major sports league.
Shanahan has been getting a taste of that with this camp. He hasn’t been able to do it by himself. He has had to do what an executive does – delegate, coordinate, pull together the entire organization.
First, Shanahan had to survey coaches and general managers to see what ideas they wanted to test. Then he had to pare down the list. Then he had to find coaches and players to participate. Then he had to worry about everything else – the equipment, the rink set-up, sponsor involvement, PR …
Shanahan was among a generation of hockey players who at least occasionally spoke eloquently and outside of cliches, much like fellow greats Brett Hull and Jeremy Roenick. Many athletes struggle with their post-professional sports careers, so kudos to the guy I once called “Oldmanahan” for keeping himself busy … and maybe benefiting hockey in the process.