60 minutes | May 6, 2020
S2: Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Ken Holland, the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers. Ken starts the conversation talking about why at the age of 64 he wanted to take the GM job in Edmonton (3:00) and what it’s like working with the Oiler’s ownership group (7:00). He discusses how he got his start in hockey management as a scout (12:00) and how hard it was to stop playing and start working as a scout (16:00). He reminisces about his time working at a liquor store during the summer, and how he almost became a vacuum salesman (20:00). Ken explains why Edmonton is poised to be perennial playoff contender, and why he credits Dave Tippett for the quick turnaround in 2019-20. He discusses Connor McDavid’s dedication to winning and how surprised he was at how good of a player Leon Draisaitl is (27:00). He looks back at his time in Detroit and tries to explain how drastically different the NHL is now and why certain players are willing to take less money than others (41:35). Ken talks about making deals with Steve Yzerman, how close the Red Wings were to trading Yzerman, Mike Babcock’s coaching future, what he likes to do when he has time to relax and why organizing golf trips and getting out on the golf course brings him back to his hockey paying days (49:50).
38 minutes | Apr 29, 2020
S2: Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Jim Benning, the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks. Jim starts by talking about the state of the NHL, and the constant evolution he’s seen within the game since his playing days (1:00). He talks about the unique perspective he has when watching some of the League’s best offensive defensemen, such as Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar (4:15) and what he learned from his mentor Pat Quinn (6:00). Jim discusses the influence his father, a legendary scout for the Canadiens, had on him and the sort of players his father liked as a scout (10:12). Jim talks about the challenges he faced when he first started in Vancouver, how the Club is on its way to completing the rebuild, what his staff saw in Elias Pettersson and why Travis Green has been a successful coach (26:00). He explains why he traded for JT Miller and his philosophy when drafting and developing goalies (30:00). He shares some personal nuggets about himself in Deb’s “Executive Summary” (36:00).
35 minutes | Apr 22, 2020
S2: Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Jarmo Kekalainen, the General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jarmo kicks off the conversation talking about his favorite hobby and one of his favorite professional athletes to watch perform (3:00). He talks about all the injuries the Jackets have dealt with during the 2019-20 season, how gaining experience has helped him enjoy his time in the GM role, and the biggest challenges he faces regularly while running the Club (5:00). Jarmo reminisces about growing up in Finland, discusses the principles he tries to live by, and reacts to some of the perceptions that NHL player agents have had about him (7:30). He explains how he got his start in hockey as an agent, how his relationship with John Davidson has evolved over time, how he got the GM job in Columbus, and what it meant to become the first ever European GM in the NHL (14:00). He shares what it’s like to work with John Tortorella, and explains why he thinks Torts is a perfect fit for him and the players (21:00). He also tells us the one thing he NEVER does with Tortorella (22:30). Jarmo finishes the conversation talking about his two young goaltenders and their promising futures, the 2018-19 playoff run, and shares some personal nuggets about himself in Deb’s “Executive Summary” (30:00).
32 minutes | Mar 11, 2020
S2: Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Chuck Fletcher, the General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. The conversation starts with Chuck reminiscing about his Harvard days, and how he learned to love hockey while growing up in Atlanta (3:00). He talks about how his father Cliff exposed him to the life of an NHL general manager at a young age, describes how his longtime relationship with David Poile began, and shares a story about the one time he made a trade with his father (9:00). Chuck explains what it was like to work on the Florida Panthers staff as the NHL expanded in 1993 and the challenges surrounding the South Florida market at the time (15:00). He shares why he thinks Alain Vigneault is the best fit for Philadelphia, and offers quick hitter thoughts on a lot players currently on the Flyers roster, including Carter Hart, Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes (22:00).
37 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
S2: Pat Kelleher, Executive Director, USA Hockey
Deb Placey is joined by Pat Kelleher, Executive Director of USA Hockey. He offers a unique perspective on being a "hockey parent", explains why hockey has grown in the USA and the role that the NHL has had in in growing the game (3:00). Pat explains what all youth hockey coaches should be doing, and he reminisces about the "Miracle on Ice", and why the moment still reverberates to this day (13:00). He talks about USA Hockey's pipeline of players, the depth of talent in the U.S., and Jake Sanderson's NHL future (21:00). Pat wraps up talking about some of the key NHL alumni that have left an impact on USA Hockey and why it's so important to continue to push for diversity in the sport (26:00).
50 minutes | Feb 5, 2020
S2: Jennifer Bullano Ridgley, Pittsburgh Penguins Vice President, Media Relations
Deb Placey welcomes Jennifer Bullano Ridgley, the Vice President of Media Relations for the Pittsburgh Penguins to the podcast. Their conversation begins with Jen explaining how she first became interested in pursuing a career in hockey and how her first job at Disney World led her to wanting to get involved in sports public relations (1:40). Jen shares her thoughts on the evolution of the sports industry, she explains her role with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and tells a funny story of her first month on the job with the team (5:00). She discusses working with Sidney Crosby, the crazy media requests he gets, and why sometimes she has to give him special treatment (11:00). Deb asks Jen how she deals with stressful moments, and Jen offers a wonderful piece of advice to those who want to break into her business (19:00). Jen reveals some of her superstitious quirks, explains why working with Marc-Andre Fleury was amazing, elaborates on her relationship with Dan Bylsma and Mike Sullivan, and discusses the differences between Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford (24:00). She reminisces about having to navigate the team through HBO’s first 24/7 behind the scenes show (26:00), offers up some of the challenges of working in a social media world (35:00) and explains how her relationship with Phil Kessel evolved (39:15). She shares a bit of her personal side during Deb’s “Executive Summary” line of questioning (47:00).
38 minutes | Oct 1, 2019
S2: Jim Nill, Dallas Stars General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Jim Nill, the Dallas Stars General Manager. Jim talks about his days as a player (:52), how he met his wife (2:03) and how her battle with cancer has inspired and shaped him as a person (7:00). He discusses his trade for Tyler Seguin (9:52), what made Pavel Datsyuk special (13:02), why it’s so hard to project the success of players (19:23), why he knew Steve Yzerman would be a GM (24:08), and what he learned most from Scotty Bowman (27:38). He explains why Joe Pavelski is a perfect fit for the Dallas Stars (32:49), and what makes Jim Montgomery a quality coach (33:33).
32 minutes | Oct 1, 2019
S2: Bill Guerin, Minnesota Wild General Manager
Deb Placey welcomes in Bill Guerin, the Minnesota Wild General Manager. Bill explains why he really wanted the Wild GM job and why he thinks the position was a great fit for him and the franchise (1:07). He recounts the day he was named the NY Islanders Captain (7:27), describes what he learned working in the Pittsburgh Penguins front office (13:30), and reveals something about Sidney Crosby that only insiders would know (16:15). He discusses why coaching wasn’t a good fit for him (18:00), why he was traded so often (25:15), how his experience playing will help him relate to his players as a GM (27:08), and his goals for the Wild (30:10).
27 minutes | Oct 1, 2019
S2: Ron Francis, NHL Seattle General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Ron Francis, the General Manager of the newly added Seattle franchise. Ron discusses his new role in Seattle (:37), the moving parts surrounding the franchise (2:00), and the process of choosing a name for the team (4:15). He reflects on his childhood (4:50), caring for his disabled brother (5:45), the best player he ever played with in the NHL (11:02), why he thinks he’s considered underrated (11:42), and how he handled his trade from Hartford to Pittsburgh (14:11). He explains when his love for wine began (15:52), why he’s enjoyed working with the Seattle ownership group (20:05), how technology will impact the identity of the franchise (22:34) and the challenges surrounding the upcoming expansion draft (23:27).
38 minutes | Oct 1, 2019
S2: Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Kyle Dubas, the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager. He talks about his first meeting with Brendan Shanahan (5:17) and why their relationship has worked (7:21). He explains why he decided to pursue being a player agent and why the profession ultimately wasn’t for him (17:07). Dubas recounts how he was able to land the general manager job with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and reveals how the experience was very special to him and his family (20:20). He describes his relationship with Mike Babcock (29:30), preaches the importance of diversity (32:50) and explains why naming a team captain in Toronto means more there than it may for other franchises (34:22).
37 minutes | Oct 1, 2019
S2: Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues General Manager
Deb Placey sits down with Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues General Manager. Doug discusses how his father’s time as an NHL linesman influenced his life (1:27) and why he owes his career as a general manager to Bob Clarke and Bob Gainey (9:27). He explains the challenges he faced when first taking the GM job with the St. Louis Blues (13:21) and the magnitude of winning the Stanley Cup for the city of St. Louis in 2018-19 (14:46). He discusses his relationship with Craig Berube (19:07), what the key was to turning around their season to win the Stanley Cup (23:00), why it made sense for the Blues to trade for eventual Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly (24:40) and how much he cried after winning the Stanley Cup (32:26). He wonders if there will be a Cup “hangover” in 2019-20 and what steps his players and staff has taken to avoid one (35:05).
25 minutes | May 15, 2019
S1: Dale Tallon, Florida Panthers General Manager
Deb Placey is joined by Dale Tallon, Florida Panthers General Manager. Dale reminisces about the days when NHL players had roommates on the road (1:55) and reveals why his staff drafted Patrick Kane in Chicago (4:30). He explains the similarities between a hockey shot and a golf swing, and mentions some of the top players he hit the course with during in his golf days (15:20). He shares how the Florida Panthers ownership under Vincent Viola has spawned a wonderful culture change (18:10) and why the game on the ice has never been better (21:50).
65 minutes | May 8, 2019
S1: Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer
Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer, joins Deb Placey. Mayer explains why he has always been known as the “idea guy” (2:43) and discusses how his desire to be a sports broadcaster led to working at IMG for 20 years (8:12). He shares who his biggest mentor was (12:23), recalls the 8 years he worked as a sports broadcaster (18:13) and explains how his experience working as an announcer helped him seamlessly make the transition to production (21:40). Mayer discusses his interactions with NHL Clubs (26:20), the approach he takes when planning memorable NHL events (29:56) and the future of in-arena game presentation (40:22). He explains why working with Snoop Dog was appealing to the NHL (43:03) and tells us what EXACTLY happened when Steve Harvey made his infamous mistake during the 2015 Miss Universe show (55:12).
40 minutes | May 1, 2019
S1: Heidi Browning, NHL Chief Marketing Officer
Heidi Browning, NHL Chief Marketing Officer, sits down with Deb Placey. Browning discusses why she’s a “digital passionista” (1:00), her key responsibilities as the NHL’s CMO and how her first hockey game led to a lasting friendship (4:09). She explains the challenges of marketing hockey and players to casual fans (8:02) and why she became interested in a career in marketing (15:17). Browning recalls her time working in Silicon Valley at MySpace and Pandora (18:44) and tells us why she couldn’t turn down an opportunity at the NHL (16:15). She passes along a key piece of advice to young professionals (32:48) and discusses the NHL’s cultural content initiatives (35:44).
31 minutes | Apr 24, 2019
S1: Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager
Deb Placey’s guest is Jim Rutherford, General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford explains why he loves Pittsburgh (1:18) and why he takes a hands-off approach to working with his goalies (3:02). He tells the story about how he became the first goalie to play with a decorated helmet (6:30), describes his negotiating tactics (10:40) and discusses his relationship with Mike Sullivan (12:30), Mario Lemieux (14:00) and Sidney Crosby (28:40).
32 minutes | Apr 17, 2019
S1: Lou Lamoriello, NY Islanders GM
Deb Placey is joined byNew York Islanders President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Lou Lamoriello. Lou reminisces about his early days in hockey while working as a stick boy with the Providence Reds and how his relationship with Johnny Bower began (5:12). He recalls his time playing and managing in the Cape Cod Baseball League (9:53), when he took over the Providence College men’s hockey program (16:17), and his time as the school’s Athletic Director. He shares who his first choice was for the Providence men’s basketball head coaching position (17:15) and why he ultimately ended up hiring Rick Pitino (17:25). Lou fondly remembers when he was recruited to run the New Jersey Devils (19:10) and how that led to him working with George Steinbrenner (24:14). He details the time he was almost an extra on The Sopranos (26:32) and why he supported the drafting of Soviet players to the NHL (29:22).
48 minutes | Apr 9, 2019
S1: Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer
Deb Placey is joined by Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President of Production for NBC Sports. Flood recounts his start in sports television (3:23) and what he learned while working under Dick Ebersol (7:00). He talks about NBC’s coverage of Sunday Night Football (18:50), new technology being integrated into sports broadcasts (25:33), and his relationship with Doc Emrick (28:58). Flood details the best storylines heading into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (40:35) and how he measures success (45:45).
33 minutes | Apr 7, 2019
S1: Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks General Manager
Deb Placey welcomes San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson to the podcast. Wilson recalls being traded to the expansion Sharks (3:19) and skating in the infamous Cow Palace (4:30). He discusses Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer (11:50), captain Joe Pavelski (21:26) and defenseman Brent Burns (26:34). He discloses how his first roommate in the NHL changed his life (23:40), how signing a ‘contract-for-the-day’ got started (28:15) and what he thinks makes hockey players so special (29:40).
32 minutes | Apr 2, 2019
S1: John Chayka, Arizona Coyotes General Manager
Deb Placey chats with John Chayka, the General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes. Chayka discusses how often people bring up his age (1:03) and how his transition to the NHL was made easier by veteran general managers who went out of their way to welcome him into the fraternity (2:00). He explains how his passion for hockey began (3:45), what allowed him to start his first business at the age of 19 (5:17) and how he learned from his father’s experience as a serial entrepreneur (6:08). He points out why he chose to attend Ivey Business School (10:30), what he analyzes when making hockey decisions (13:13), and how much he leans on the “eye test” when evaluating players (14:00). John reveals his personal connection to the fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s (15:51), describes the biggest challenge currently facing the Arizona Coyotes (19:05) and tells us about his interactions with front office members of the Arizona Diamondbacks (20:40). He praises the NHL’s focus on player and puck tracking and explains why he believes the data collected from tracking will be invaluable to fans, players and teams (27:35).
42 minutes | Mar 20, 2019
S1: Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils GM
Deb Placey is joined by Ray Shero, the General Manager of the New Jersey Devils. Shero discusses why he believes the Devils 2018-19 season isn’t as disappointing as their record indicates (1:17), how the franchise’s culture has changed over the last few years (4:10) and the likelihood of signing Taylor Hall to a long-term deal (5:48). Shero reveals how a four hour dinner he had with Hall prior to the 2017-18 season was key to Hall having a Hart Trophy campaign (7:01) and why their run to the playoffs last year was so special for Devils fans (13.26). Ray chats about how his father Fred was able to convince Ed Snider to hire the NHL’s first full-time assistant coach (18:55), his time playing hockey at St. Lawrence University (25:54), and working as an Assistant GM with the Predators and Senators (29:30). He dissects some of his best draft picks with the Penguins (33:35) and tells a story of how David Poile taught him the difference between being a GM and an Assistant GM (38:03).