Blackfalds Bulldogs assistant GM, Adam West, has aspired to work in hockey operations since he was a kid and his commitment to that end has taken him all over the world in pursuit of his dream. West is a cool communicator, a snappy dresser and an analytics enthusiast who is always looking to learn the latest ‘tricks of the trade’ that will help him be successful in his profession.
As an integral piece of the Bulldogs hockey operations staff, West is involved in many aspects of the day-to-day for the team. Player recruitment takes up a significant amount of his schedule, as does conversing with college advisors or talking at length with scouts about prospective impact players. Helping run a hockey team can be a grueling pursuit, at times, but West explained that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve known that I wanted to work on the management side of hockey,” he revealed. “It was just as my own playing career was wrapping up in my high school days, and as I was getting into coaching, I just became one of those hockey nerds on Twitter who loved to dive into the analytics and the salary cap. I became encapsulated in that side of the game and about learning how to build a championship team from that role. Something just clicked and I loved doing it.”
West began his studies in Mount Royal University’s Business Program in 2012, hoping to transition into hockey after earning his degree. However, he found that making inroads in the hockey world was proving difficult at the time and decided to continue enhancing his knowledge and experience by traveling abroad to earn his bachelor’s degree in Sports and Leisure Management at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. West also had the opportunity to coach while completing his studies, serving as an assistant coach with the Vierumaki United U20 Hockey Club (2014-16).
“I went over there and got my first experience coaching U20 for two seasons. That was pretty interesting for me because the first year, five players on the team were the same age as me or older, since I was just 20-years-old myself,” chuckled West. “It was interesting though, balancing that relationship. Battling through language barriers and coaching someone the same age, it was an interesting dynamic, but I think it made me a better coach and a better sports-industry professional because you really need to know how to communicate properly in this business.”
After successfully completing his bachelor’s degree in Finland, West worked as Director of Hockey Operations for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He spent four seasons with the Vees, which he says was a wonderful learning experience that almost felt like an additional four years of university.
“I got to learn about actually working day-to-day in hockey, and the grind of that, and I got to learn it in a place that has a pretty high pedigree itself; so, I’m really happy about the time I spent there,” expressed West. “Then to have the opportunity, as a pretty young guy still, to hop over here to Blackfalds and get in with an expansion team in year-one in more of an expanded role and to be a part of what was happening here was exciting. I’m really happy with the direction things are going and I think this will be a strong program for quite a few years.”
West admits there is no ‘off-season’ when working in hockey and he is already busy preparing for next season. His focus: to enhance Game Day experience for Bulldogs fans, offering more exposure and opportunity for engagement with local businesses and, of course, icing a competitive hockey team in 2022-23.