Working is a grind that everyone goes through. It is competition. Any working force requires all members to work in unison for one common goal, profit. Hockey and hockey teams are just like any business, relying on all staff to perform adequately. I apply/analogize many things to science and the NHL is no different. The NHL being a biosphere in itself: Western and Eastern conferences within the league play part as biomes housing various ecosystems (NHL organizations). Ecosystems house more than a community and in this case a community being all levels of personnel within an NHL organization, including ownership, management, and staff(s). Below a community is a population. I think of the population as the players: those directly involved in an environment competing against other individuals. That is a lot to take in, but imperative to the fluidity of the game. Like in every natural ecosystem, it requires the cohesion within a community in order to function properly.
When speaking of an NHL organization (an ecosystem), there are many different levels of organization that keep the flow of a season going properly, a homeostasis if you will. When discussing an NHL community, one must look at all brackets within an organization. In taking a taxonomic approach to an NHL team’s staff, there is: ownership, executive management, hockey operations, coaches, player development and scouting staff, a medical staff, and two training staffs: medical and equipment. For all intents and purposes, there are other departments such as communications, human resources, ticket sales, and marketing but that does not necessarily pertain to the team itself. All aforementioned departments play a pivotal role in putting out the on-ice product and a lot goes into an NHL regular season (and beyond if a team makes it to the post season).
Individuals (players) get the recognition for their play on the ice, as they should, but there are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that make these departments unique in their own way. It all starts with NHL Ownership, obviously. Those who control the money, control the power of what happens to the team. Owner’s involvement varies on the decisions being made on and off the ice for the team, but signs the checks. That is an unbelievable responsibility of extreme economic magnitude. Executive management as the General Manager, Assistant General Manager and/or Hockey Operations do just that, the day-to-day operations of a hockey team. Which individuals will represent the organization in practically all departments (levels of the ecosystem) is controlled by upper management. Coaching (Head, assistant, goalie, and video) staffs help by pushing players to consistently evolve and an NHL’s medical staff is the perfect definition of how we have evolved as a species and how it allows players to beat the odds of keeping an athlete at a high physical condition. In regards to to the equipment training staff, the comfort of play and importance of equipment, lays the foundation for the game to be played at a high level for NHL teams. Without the equipment staff, NHL teams would fall victim to the awful smell of hockey bags, dull skate blades, and benches as opposed to individual stalls tagged with an individual player’s name.
It is easy to be focused on the mystique behind NHL and professional athletes. Truthfully, it is comparable to the romanticism we have towards small and large animals. We talk about a player like we would talk about this top predator, or this offensive defenseman as an herbivore because he does not take the body, but we fail to take into consideration all that encompasses their environment. These individuals that make up each department are important enough to be on the Stanley Cup. Ecosystems require flow of all communities to remain successful and to keep balance, and the NHL is no different.