They may no longer play NHL hockey, but former players seem to try and find a way to stay with the game when they hang up the skates.
I caught up with six former NHL players during this past hockey season, and all but one still had a life that involved the NHL.
(Right-winger for Edmonton Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1987 to 2004)
“Once an Oiler, always an Oiler” definitely describes the Langenburg product.
Buchberger spent the majority of his NHL career in Edmonton earning two Stanley Cup rings. These days, the graduate of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors is the manager of player personnel with the Oilers.
He worked closely with Scott Howson, who is Oilers senior vice-president of player personnel, and the two will spend a large chunk of time evaluating the college ranks in the United States.
Buchberger is upbeat about what lies ahead in the future for the Edmonton franchise.
“It has been a huge change here this year,” said Buchberger. “There are a lot of different people coming in and out. We have good days coming in Edmonton.”
Buchberger appeared in 795 regular season games as a member of the Oilers and became the club’s career leader in penalty minutes with 1,747. He also potted 82 career goals and 158 career assists with the Oilers.
(Centre for Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars from 1980 to 2000)
“I am back living in Montreal, and I work on TV with RDS, which is like the French version of TSN,” said Carbonneau. “I do some of the games for the Montreal Canadiens, and I do a sports talk show a couple of times a week.”
During his career, Carbonneau won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward three times. In February of 2011, he became the head coach of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but resigned that position in July of 2011.
Carbonneau is happy to be back in broadcasting, which was a field he worked in before becoming Chicoutimi’s coach.
“It is a lot of fun,” said Carbonneau, who was the Canadiens head coach from 2006 to 2009. “It keeps me involved in hockey. It keeps me interested in watching the game.
“As a hockey player, I think we’ve always been passionate about the game. I enjoy watching it. I enjoy going to the game. It just keeps me close.”
(Right-winger who played for the St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, and Toronto Maple Leafs from 1989 to 2000)
The graduate of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades was known as an enforcer piling up 2,017 career penalty minutes in 458 NHL regular season games. In the WHL, he had 800 penalty minutes in 195 regular season games with the Blades.
The Porcupine Plain product found a home behind a microphone after he finished playing.
“I left the game, and I got into broadcasting,” said Chase. “I work for ESPN and NHL Network now as well as working for the St. Louis Blues doing radio and TV.
“If you can stay in game and still be fortunate enough to enjoy the successes of the others because you appreciate it and it is part of our culture, than you have been pretty fortunate. I feel really lucky that I have been able to do that.”
(Centre with St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings 1976 to 1990)
He played all but his final NHL season with the Blues, and he is still connected with the club that retired his #24.
“I actually still work for the St. Louis Blues in Fox Sports Midwest,” said Federko. “I am one of the TV analysts on the Blues hockey games, and I do some promotional work for the Blues as well.”
Federko said he had been doing television work for over 20 years.
“It is a way to stay in the game and be involved with the game,” said Federko. “I get to travel with the team and do all kinds of stuff. I don’t think there is anything anymore fun.
“I played the game for a living for all those years. I played junior, and all of a sudden, I can continue to be a part of it and to do the analysis on TV is really a lot of fun.”
Way back in the 1975-76 campaign, Federko set the Saskatoon Blades’ club record for points in a season at 187 coming off 72 goals and 115 assists in 72 games. That record still stands to this day.
(Defenceman who played for Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild from 2000 to 2011)
These days Hnidy can often be found in the broadcast booth in the capital city of his home province.
“I retired with Boston, when we won the (Stanley) Cup in 2011,” said Hnidy, who played in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos and Prince Albert Raiders. “Since then, I’ve got on with the broadcasting crew covering the Winnipeg Jets.
“I do television there with former assistant GM here with the Blades way back Dennis Beyak. He is my play-by-play man, and I do colour on TV. We cover the Jets all year long.”
Hnidy felt lucky to have been in the right place in his life at the right time.
“To me, it is the second best job you can have,” said Hnidy. “First is playing, and second is staying in the game in whatever capacity.
“This is something that just came about. It worked out. I am a Manitoba kid. Jets came back right at the same time, and it kind of all worked together.”
(Centre for Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs from 1998 to 2006)
A graduate of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, Wilm settled down in “The Bridge City” after hanging up his skates.
“I started an eavestroughing, exterior company,” said Wilm. “I have been doing that here working in the housing market, and it has been good.”
Wilm admitted life in his post-hockey profession is a lot different from life during his playing days.
“It is night and day,” said Wilm. “Hockey is an amazing lifestyle, and I had a great time playing hockey.
“Now it is time for phase two in life in the real working world, but it is fun. I get to be around the kids all the time and be a part of their hockey, so it has been a good transition.”
In his final season with the Blades in the 1995-96 campaign, Wilm collected 49 goals and 61 assists in 72 games.
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