Bet on yourself: Saskatoon hockey players look to the future of the American sports business world
The list of famous hockey players born in the United Arab Emirates is not long. Adding Zimbabwean background and Saskatoon upbringing, the list becomes shorter.
Vukie Mpofu moved to Saskatchewan before his first birthday and quickly became immersed in Canadian pastime. At the age of 25, he found himself embarking on an increasingly compelling job in the hockey business.
This path already includes stopping the analysis of the Vegas Golden Cavaliers contract and interning at Wasserman Media Group In Los Angeles. The company represents the superstars of the game industry such as Connor McDavid and Alston Matthews.
Although these players have appeared in the highlights day and night, Mbov has been making great progress in his own way. Last month, he graduated from UCLA Law School and was hired by the Los Angeles Kings.
Mpofu’s love for the sport naturally grew up in Saskatoon, which is keen on hockey, although it was not so natural to his Zimbabwean parents.
“I was really involved in hockey when I was very young, and my parents were a bit unsure about it,” he said. “No one in my family has played hockey before.”
Nevertheless, he surpassed the grassroots level of the game and was selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. He became an outstanding striker in the Saskatchewan Men’s AAA Hockey League’s Saskatoon Contact Team and played twice with the club in the country’s under-18s team’s National Championship Telus Cup.
But after a season in the rebels, Mbov let head coach Brent Sartre know that he will not be back for another season.
“I learned a lot during Red Deer. One of the things I may have learned from Brent, or one of the best lessons I learned from him, is self-assessment,” Mpofu said.
“This is a point he emphasizes very much-as long as you have the ability to examine yourself and evaluate your game, your situation and your professional ethics, and whether you are a responsible and reliable person.”
‘Bet on myself’
Mpofu is fascinated by the business decisions of professional sports, especially as a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. His enthusiasm sparked curiosity about salary cap-related decisions and potential ways to improve the hockey team outside of the game.
“When I realized, well, I might not be an NHL-level talent, that was a natural development from there,” Mpofu said.
“I kind of decided to bet on myself.”
Already focusing on the business aspects of hockey and pursuing a law degree, Mpofu decided to start his education as early as possible and enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science.
His bet paid off, prompting Mpofu to finally be admitted to the UCLA School of Law, which opened sports and entertainment programs. This allows him to participate in exercises such as simulated negotiations in courses such as sports loss simulation.
Despite the loss of a top player, Sartre is still happy for him.
“He is a really smart kid. He has a mission; he has a dream of what he wants to do,” he said.
“You know that he will be successful in this area, just because he is very loyal in the way he does things, he is very loyal to what he wants to do, disciplined, and hardworking.”
The NHL season may have just ended, but Mpofu’s career has just begun, as one of the newest members of the Los Angeles Kings front desk. As the team’s hockey operations and legal affairs manager, Mpofu will oversee contract negotiations with the Kings, salary cap management, collective bargaining issues and analysis when he joins the team in August.
After talking to several teams, Mbov chose to stay in California. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, he was excited by the idea of ??working with a hockey club during the rebuilding process.
“This is very suitable for me,” Mpofu said.
Mpofu joined the star-studded front desk, including Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake, the latter being the Stanley Cup champions of the 2001 Avalanche team-a team that made Mpofu fall in love with the commercial aspects of the sport.
“Having the opportunity to do what I like, waking up every day and being excited about going to work, and being excited about different opportunities, this is not something everyone has, and of course I would not take it for granted.”
Mbov’s path to today has provided him with some unique opportunities.
While hosting a group of friends from Saskatoon in Los Angeles, he met a group of Pittsburgh penguins, including Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.
“I remember Sidney called Saskatoon’Toon Town’, he knew’Toon Town’ from Colby Armstrong and others [a Saskatoon native and former teammate of Crosby’s in Pittsburgh]. It’s so funny,” Mpofu said.
‘Off the chart’
Mpofu lists Saskatoon’s little hockey coaches Marc Chartier and Chris Jacobson, and Next Level Training’s Kelly Riou and Brad Devine as influential figures in his life. The latter is the former agent of Thunder Creek Professional Player Management in Saskatoon. Man, he passed the hockey community.
“Vukie is a collective act. He is a smart and hardworking young man who will have an impact on the hockey world. He has planned the life he wants to go to, combined with his great work ethic, where he will go where he wants to go ,” Devine said.
“For someone his age, his composure and maturity are beyond the chart.”
Devine believes that although Mpofu has the potential to follow his path as an agent, the qualities he possesses can continue to take him where he wants to go.
“I am not a gambler, but if I were, my money would be invested in Vukie.”
For more stories about the experience of black Canadians-from anti-black racism to success stories in the black community-check out Become black in Canada, A CBC project that Canadian blacks can be proud of. You can read more stories here.