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Beyond the game – Former players turn to Ivey to begin a new career

  • Declan Kelly
  • |
  • Nov 27, 2017
Beyond the game – Former players turn to Ivey to begin a new career

In addition to alumni who are now working in some aspect of hockey, Ivey has also been the place where former players have chosen to start building the foundations of their post-hockey careers.

When a serious neck injury threatened to end Jamie Sokolsky’s, MBA ’04, playing days in 2002, the sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers knew it was time to consider a career outside the game. Having spent five seasons with various NHL affiliates in the East and West Coast Hockey Leagues, Sokolsky applied to Ivey’s MBA Program. But between that application and starting the program, Sokolsky was cleared to return playing and received an unlikely offer to play for CSKA Moscow – the famed Red Army Team. Sokolsky had a short stint with the Russian club, before playing one season for the Mustangs while completing his studies at Ivey.

He says the year of varsity hockey was the ideal way to draw a line under his playing career at the elite level.

“Looking back, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go straight into Ivey only months after my last pro season,” Sokolsky says. “Also being able to play hockey for Western was a nice way to leave the game.”

Since graduating, Sokolsky has worked as a currency options trader with TD Securities in Toronto, UBS in Zurich and Credit Agricole in New York.

As one of only a handful of westerners to have played professional hockey in Russia in the early 2000s, Sokolsky’s work in banking has now brought him full circle with his playing career. He has spent the past three years back in Moscow, where he works for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank CIB.

Sokolsky acknowledges a certain irony in returning to Moscow more than a decade after playing there. He says both came about as a result of trying something different while seeking new opportunities.

It’s something he feels others coming to the end of their playing days will relate to as they move into the next phase of their career.

“What I would say to any hockey player who is having to transition into the ‘real world’ is that the foundation for a successful career has already been built over the many years of training and competing,” Sokolsky notes. “Business skills can be learned using the same skill set already ingrained through the process. This might sound a bit cliché, but hockey players are very teachable.”

At the OHL level, Sokolsky is still listed among the Top 10 highest scoring defenceman for the Belleville Bulls – a list that includes NHL stars PK Subban and Marty McSorley.

Other former professional players to choose Ivey upon hanging up the blades:

  • Current HBA2 student Peter Delmas was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. Delmas spent four seasons in goal for various NHL affiliates in the AHL, CHL and ECHL, before playing the 2015-2016 season for the Mustangs.
  • David Simpson, MBA ’88, lecturer and Director of Ivey’s Business Families Centre, was a third-round pick of the New York Islanders in the 1980 NHL entry draft. Following a stellar OHL career, Simpson spent four years playing for affiliates of the Islanders and Boston Bruins in the AHL and Central Hockey League. The former London Knights captain still holds the team record for single season scoring (155 points) and was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year for the 1981-1982 season.
  • Brent Imlach, HBA ’70, managed only three games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, all while they were coached by his Hall-of-Fame father, George “Punch” Imlach. The younger Imlach also played briefly for the AHL’s Rochester Americans. His final NHL game came in the 1966-1967 season, when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup. Brent Imlach died in March 2017.