📝 by Gary R. Blockus | AHL On The Beat
Greg Carey performed simply 4 seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, however left an indelible impression as a confirmed objective scorer.
Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic ending the 2019-2020 season prematurely, Carey’s numbers would place him even larger on the franchise’s all-time scoring lists.
However nowadays, Carey has traded his game-day uniform for an additional Phantoms uniform, that of a go well with within the entrance workplace.
The 32-year-old is happy about his new position. As a substitute of scoring targets, he’s going to be assembly or exceeding several types of targets because the workforce’s company partnerships supervisor.
“I need to be good at my job, identical to I used to be good on the ice,” mentioned Carey, who made his residence within the Lehigh Valley when he moved right here to play, settling in along with his spouse, Kendra, and son, Grant, who was born in 2021.
“Identical to enjoying, day by day is totally different. It’s 9-to-5, and we’ve got sport nights like with the hockey schedule, however the outlook is similar. It’s aggressive. You need to win.
“Clearly we’re making an attempt to promote company partnerships and make it a greater expertise by creating the very best product and leisure for our followers,” he mentioned. “That is exhilarating. I’m studying one thing new day by day, and to do one thing new. I used to be on the ice for 29 years, skating since I used to be 3. To nonetheless be in hockey however doing one thing totally different is refreshing. It’s good to see this enterprise aspect of it.”
Whereas Carey has to reset his technique from scoring targets on the ice to setting them and breaking them on the company spreadsheets, he’s by no means had a problem with making the most of alternatives.
He’s the one 100-plus objective scorer in Lehigh Valley Phantoms historical past with 103, third all-time in franchise historical past counting the workforce’s keep in Philadelphia and the Adirondacks. The truth is, he has the highest three goal-scoring seasons in Lehigh Valley Phantoms historical past and will have had the highest 4 locations had it not been for COVID.
“From our perspective, what an amazing alternative that is to have a participant who was so profitable on probably the most profitable groups in Lehigh Valley historical past to be on this position,” mentioned franchise co-owner Jim Brooks.
“From his perspective, how nice is it to have a chance to remain linked to the sport in a city the place you made such a huge effect?” Brooks added, rhetorically. “From our followers’ perspective, he’s now much more accessible to them.”
Certainly, Carey can present a singular bridge between the followers and the workforce, providing a participant’s viewpoint from the high-altitude look of the fan expertise on ice and locally.
In his new position with the entrance workplace, Carey — often called Care Bear throughout his enjoying days — is interacting with individuals and regional companies which can be within the Phantoms, but additionally within the Lehigh Valley neighborhood and its high quality of life.
He can relate these experiences of what it’s wish to be an expert hockey participant within the Lehigh Valley, how the gamers can respect and help the neighborhood, but additionally what the neighborhood can do to raised help these gamers and the workforce.
The Lehigh Valley is uniquely located halfway between the Philadelphia residence of the mother or father membership Philadelphia Flyers and New York Metropolis, making it a straightforward day journey for world-class tradition and historical past.
A part of Carey’s cause for staying is he fell in love with the area throughout his enjoying days.
“We by no means actually went again residence to Canada for the summers,” mentioned the Hamilton, Ont., native. “I actually turned a part of the neighborhood right here. I needed to see if there was one thing I may do to assist the workforce off the ice, and this simply ended up being excellent timing.”
The Lehigh Valley itself is residence to many world-class parks and recreation areas, with Class A trout streams, recreation on the Lehigh and Delaware rivers, main mountain climbing and biking path programs — together with the Appalachian Path — and Triple-A baseball within the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the highest farm membership of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Plus, there are two distinctive well being care programs serving the Valley. The truth is, Carey’s spouse Kendra works within the analytic well being care knowledge monitoring divisions of Lehigh Valley Well being Community.
However transitioning from participant to entrance workplace didn’t happen in a single day.
“COVID was a wierd yr,” Carey mentioned of 2020. “It was powerful discovering contract offers as a participant. I form of sat on a shelf however I didn’t need COVID to retire me. We simply had a child, and I needed to offer it one final go.”
He performed in Italy in 2021-22, however Carey didn’t need to miss out on the expertise of being round his younger son and spouse.
Carey had stayed in contact with Dennis Begley, the Phantoms’ vice chairman of partnerships and premium seating, and reached out about any potential alternatives for employment past enjoying.
“We favored the concept of getting a former participant in partnerships, and he was the right man for it,” Begley mentioned. “He began his new place at the start of this season, and it’s a model new factor for him from being a hockey participant, however he has the persona for it.”
His hiring got here at an opportune second, too, making him eligible to play within the workforce’s annual preseason golf event with native firms and followers. Golf is a giant deal to him, and he known as it a “doughnut round Philadelphia” of some prestigious golf programs which can be on his bucket listing for the following few years.
He’s additionally modified the dynamic of the Phantoms workers’s Wednesday hockey video games.
“I can let you know, he’s making me and [brother and co-owner] Rob look actually good,” Jim Brooks mentioned. “Our morning hockey has taken a giant step up.”
Most of all, Brooks can’t imagine how many individuals are approaching him and telling him how nice it’s to have Carey again and dealing for the workforce.
“He was profitable on the ice, and that didn’t simply occur,” Brooks mentioned. “He needed to work exhausting at it, he needed to set targets, and that’s similar to what he’s doing for us right this moment. It’s only a totally different craft.”