Rick Nadeau is the VP of social impact and fan engagement with the New York Rangers, a team in the National Hockey League (NHL). He has 20+ years of leadership experience across both professional and amateur levels of the sports industry. He’s spent the last 12 years with the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden using the power of sport to positively impact the community and increase access to hockey. Rick and I have known each other throughout his tenure with the New York Rangers and I have had the personal experience of watching him grow the game. Don’t miss out on episode 15 of Mitlin Money Mindset™ with a guest who is changing the perception of youth hockey with the power of the Rangers!
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Rick’s path to landing a gig with NHL [2:37]
- What is a VP of social impact and fan engagement? [5:48]
- Is the fan base for hockey different than other sports? [9:00]
- Why are youth so important? [10:09]
- Family connections youth hockey provides that other sports may not [13:05]
- Getting sticks in kids hands [15:34]
- Changing perceptions of what the game is [19:23]
- Using Ranger alumni as a tool to help fan engagement [21:46]
- What Rick did today that put him in the right mindset for success? [24:16]
The importance of youth and their impact on the sport of hockey
Kids represent the future of our game— they represent the future of everything— so it’s about the role that sport plays in shaping young kids’ lives and the impact it can have on not just them but the sport as a whole. Rick says sport is no different than education. You’re learning lessons that you don’t learn in the classroom or maybe it’s just that the sports setting resonates with a child in a different way. A coach can reach a player in a different way than a teacher reaches a student, or mom and dad reach their child.
Our job is to make these opportunities available and accessible to as many kids as possible so they have a chance to learn those lessons. So they can have those life experiences. It could be any sport, it just happens that Rick promotes hockey and the Rangers brand in doing so.
It’s all about providing those opportunities to kids and making sure that doors aren’t shut before the kids have a chance to even walk through them and choose whether or not to shut them themselves.
Peripheral experiences hockey offers to families that other sports may not
Oftentimes there is not an ice rink in every town. There is a lot of time spent driving from point A to point B so kids get a lot of time in the car with their parents, friends, and family. Those car rides can be a really great part of the experience. There is this opportunity to have quality time with mom and dad where you’re listening to each other’s music and having real conversations. Rick thinks those things are the kind of peripheral experiences around the sport of hockey that you may not get with a lot of other sports where you’re just driving to the local soccer field and the ride takes 5 minutes. With hockey, you’re talking about a half-hour or 45-minute drive, and sometimes much longer than that. Not only do they get that with you but you get that with them.
Every kid should have a chance to at least try the game
Many kids may have the desire to try hockey, but it’s an expensive sport to try, just to see if you’re going to like it. We’re not just talking about grabbing some shin guards and a soccer ball. We are talking full head-to-toe gear, rink time, and equipment all of which are expensive. But we think every kid that wants a chance should have the opportunity available to them to at least check out the sport and explore that potential passion.
And so whether it’s on the ice or off, the New York Rangers invest in programs— that a lot of the time are free— allowing kids to try the game. Putting a stick in their hand to run around for an hour, learning the basics, and seeing if it’s something they like. From there what Rick and the New York Ranger’s brand have been doing is making sure that if those kids do love it and they say they’d love to play more, they have affordable next-step options so that they can continue. It’s programs like this that may open the door for the next great player of the NHL to walkthrough. A player that may have never been discovered because the cost of gear was not in the family’s budget.
Resources & People Mentioned
- New York Rangers programs
Connect with Rick Nadeau
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.
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