INDUSTRY PROFILE: Leeor Shtrom
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Position/Organization: Director of Hockey Operations for AZ Ice (in Peoria, Gilbert and Arcadia).
Arizona Rubber: What brought you to the Phoenix area and how long have you lived here?
Leeor Shtrom: I moved here in October 2014 with my family. I was in discussions with AZ Ice management to come down here from Canada.
AZR: How long have you been with AZ Ice, and describe what to do your day-to-day job duties look like?
LS: That was the reason for the move. It was a good fit for me. Basically, it’s to help out the hockey director at each rink, just make sure that the programs at each rink are working well and that we’re trying to implement those at each facility. We make sure that all three rinks have the same vision as far as player development.
AZR: Do you coach as well, or work strictly on the operational side?
LS: I do coach and am involved with some (VOSHA) Bobcats teams. When I can, I’ll jump on the ice with different programs. Like I said, each rink has their own hockey director and they are well-positioned to carry out those functions.
AZR: AZ Ice operates three facilities – how does your job allow you to split duties between the three? Does each rink have the same overall outlook/goal, or are there different mindsets for each area (Peoria, Gilbert, Arcadia)?
LS: The goal was to come in and introduce programs and reaffirm what each rink is doing. We want to have the same philosophy in terms of development. We have a player-first mentality and really focus on have the best house league program in the Valley. We want to put out the best product we can.
AZR: You also operate AZ Elite Hockey, which provides players and goalies with skill development and consulting. What does it bring to hockey families and youth players in the Arizona region?
LS: I played in some great programs growing up. Having been around hockey for many years, I want to keep pushing the envelope with skills and development and I believe we do that with AZ Elite Hockey.
AZR: How did your hockey playing career (college and pro) help you get to your current role today? Looking back at your playing days, what advice do you have for youth hockey players and their parents as they begin their own careers in the sport?
LS: I’ve learned a lot from playing in different parts of Canada and different parts of the U.S. I saw what I liked and what I wanted in terms of clinics and camps and stuff like that. I wanted to bring that to Arizona. My playing career helped a lot. Having played Division I hockey at Union College and playing juniors and pro, you learn a lot. You learn how teams are run and their relationship with the community and the relationships between the fans and the players and stuff like that. That really helped me in terms of my philosophy in dealing with players and parents and adult hockey.
My biggest advice would be to not worry where you play or what level you play. Just play and enjoy the game. Even if you aspire to be a pro hockey player, the goal for me is to have each player and each kid love hockey until they can’t skate anymore. I want it so that every time a kid puts on his skates, he still loves the game and has that excitement that I still have when I put on my skates. I think that should be all of our goals – regardless of whether you want to play travel or pro hockey or whatever.
The goal for everyone should be to just love the game and want to play it every time you get an opportunity to lace up your skates.
— Compiled by Eric Smith