I am often asked, “Why are you so interested in hockey?” or “Hockey isn’t a real sport.” and the notorious “Why would you want to work for a company that has had several lockouts?” Well, if you keep reading, I will tell you why.

Growing up in a Latino household, I was taught core, family values. My father was never into football or basketball, not even baseball. From September until May/June, it was what my dad liked to call “All or nothing.” And that’s exactly what hockey is-all or nothing. My very first game was at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN; the Predators were playing the Calgary Flames, in which was also a time where I felt connected with everyone around me. I saw much of myself grow during that game, screaming for Nashville to win, which they did at a final score of 2-1. And so it began.

By birth right, my team is the New York Rangers. I was raised with the mindset that whatever I put my mind to, I could achieve. What my dad meant by this was aim for the cup…the Stanley Cup. The Rangers, like much of the NHL, live and play by values that they hold high. Compared to any other sport, hockey players have always been the most caring, passionate, goal-oriented (no pun intended), and did what they had to do for their team. So why not share the same values?

As I got older, I realized what field I wanted to go into. By that time, the NHL had been in a lockout for the 2004-2005 season. There was obviously something wrong with this picture, as I pondered as to why it was. It was explained to me that a lockout dealt with salary/compensation, which was fairly low for an athlete. Now, I have nothing against other sports, but there is something about an organization that actually engages in philanthropy and it continued to irritate me that such a loving organization had low recognition in comparison to a multi-billion dollar athletic organization where players were being charged for domestic violence or drugs. Obviously those athletes didn’t value family like they claim to. But that’s neither here nor there.

Flash forwarding to the present. I’m in love with the sport and all that they stand for. NHL fans have a type of respect you don’t see at football or basketball games. Yes, there is the occasional drunk fan in the nose-bleed seats, but that’s nothing but entertainment (trust me). Fans are constantly having fun at hockey games-with their families. Being that I’m a communications major, I wanted the same connection they had, but with the players and coaching staff. I never understood why such a family-oriented, philanthropic organization was the lowest paid. So why the NHL?

I would like to be the individual responsible for rebranding the organization and their employee (and player) relations to foster an environment that is comfortable for all stakeholders. And yes, just the right amount of social media and CSR can fix that-it’s called image and reputation management.

Stanley Cup 2009: Pittsburg Penguins