Backchecking: Blake Geoffrion
Blake Geoffrion (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Backchecking: Blake Geoffrion
An injury ended Blake Geoffrion's playing career far too soon, but he hasn't left the game behind and is travelling down multiple paths – both in management and in business – in order to some day find his way back.
BY ARI YANOVER
After sustaining a career-ending injury Nov. 9, 2012 while playing for Montreal’s
farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American League, Blake Geoffrion was left with an uncertain future. He spent seven months doing nothing but recovering from a depressed skull fracture, and he couldn’t find a doctor who would give him the green light to resume playing.
But even though he’d hung up the skates, there was still interest. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen called, offering Geoffrion a scouting position.
It was a way to stay in hockey, a natural instinct for someone who has spent his entire life in the sport. So Geoffrion accepted Kekalainen’s proposal, deciding to try it for a year and see if it was a fit. “I want to be a general manager in the NHL one day,” he’d said upon taking the job. “After doing some research and figuring out how to become a general manager, this is where you started, in scouting.”
Geoffrion spent the year scouting for Columbus, but after seeing how things were run, he felt he didn’t have enough experience. He knew plenty about the hockey side, but the business side was new to him, and he wanted to explore that.
“I’m still a pretty young guy,” Geoffrion, 26, said. “I went to school, I earned a degree there, and I wanted to put that to use and see what else was out there…I just really thought that I needed to step outside of the game, step outside of my comfort zone, and I think that’ll only help me in the long term as a man and as a human being.”
After talking to some people, one thing led to another, and he joined Korn Ferry, the world’s largest executive search firm.
There, he’s a senior associate, and works to place executives in different companies. But despite entering the business world, Geoffrion isn’t completely removed from sports. Korn Ferry not only does work with professional sports leagues and teams, but the Chicago office, where Geoffrion is located, has a team-like atmosphere – something he’s used to from his time as a player.
While he’s thinking of going back to school and getting an MBA, Geoffrion hasn’t ruled out a full-time return to the hockey world.
For now it’s just a side gig. His father started the “Boom Boom Cup Classic,” a series of old timer tournaments around the United States in honor of Geoffrion’s grandfather, Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion. And on June 27, the first Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic will take place, set up to benefit the University of Wisconsin’s Health Burn Center. It will feature several Badgers alumni and current NHLers. It’s a project Geoffrion would like to see going long-term and feature “the best of the best in the NHL.” And now that he’s learning the business side of things, he’s become much more adept at setting it up.
“It was tough for me to leave the game entirely,” said Geoffrion, “but I’m still a fan. I still watch it all the time, and I know that one day, hopefully, I’ll work my way back into it when the timing is right for me and my family.”