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Q&A WITH BRAD TRELIVING

Friday, 08.10.2007 / 2:16 PM / Features
By Heath Price-Khan
Brad Treliving may not have anything hung up on the wall yet, but his desk gives you the impression that he has been here for a while, and never leaves the office. You don’t have to spend a lot of time with Brad to understand why Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney hired him to be his Assistant General Manager. He brings the type of passion and vision that this organization needs. Clearly, this is a man with a game plan.

PhoenixCoyotes.com: You obviously have an entrepreneurial spirit as the co-founder of the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) in 1996. Does that start-up mentality help you in terms of your mindset as the Coyotes look to rebuild?

Brad Treliving:  I think so. In any organization you have to have a plan and a vision. When we did what we did 11 years ago we had a vision of what the league should look like. More importantly, it was how are we going to get there? What are the pieces, people, and plan that we need to put in place? I think structurally it is very much the same. We have an idea of what we want to be when we develop, so how do we fill in the pieces between now and then. More than anything, it is going to take a lot of hard work, and effort, but I think that experience has prepared me very well.

PC: What other skills and attributes can you take from your role as President of the Central Hockey League (CHL) that can help this organization?

BT: For my position here, it’s dealing with Don Maloney and doing whatever I can to support Don in all areas of hockey operations, so it is really a true team effort. In all areas of the business, I want to bring something to the table. Maybe we are doing something a certain way and can be more creative. We want to improve everything that we are doing as a business, put more people in the building, extend our brand, extend our reach as an organization. This will help us to develop our product on the ice and win hockey games. We’ve got great people here, and I just want to contribute.

PC: For those out there that are not familiar with you, describe your management style and what you feel you bring to the organization?

BT: Good question! My management style has always been about the people. If you can put the right people in place that are passionate, willing to roll up their sleeves, do whatever it takes to be successful, and have the right foundational skill set, you are going to be successful. Whether it is by luck or good fortune, I’ve had the ability to identify good people. In terms of what else I can bring, it’s a creative look at things. A lot of times in the industry, things get done and if you ask “Why”, the answer sometimes is because that’s the way it’s always been done….and that’s the wrong answer. It’s looking at things and saying, why do we have a certain process, and is there a better way of doing it. Any individual that has been successful has had to take risks, but you want it to be calculated. Don’s been just phenomenal in saying, “Bring ideas, and let’s discuss and debate”. Ultimately, it’s how can we be better Tuesday than we were Monday? How are we going to be better in November than we were in October? You have to shake things up and be creative or else it’s difficult to get out of the status quo. If you have passionate people that are willing to grind it out, you are going to have success.

PC: Are your best attributes more towards talent evaluation or the business side of hockey?

BT: I found at a very young age that any future I was going to have in this game was not going to be playing, so you try to figure out ways to stay involved. I believe in a certain style of play that is both entertaining and a foundation for success. From the hockey side, I have some core principles that are areas you need to have. Whether it is the style of play in terms of your player component, what your team has to look like, or what the people on your team have in terms of their character. The future will see if there are skills involved there. The business side is one that I have been involved in for many years, so hopefully I can help in both areas. I think Don has used the line, “It may take us a little bit of time, but nobody is going to outwork us.”

PC: You mentioned style of play, what is the style of play that you favor? Is it big guys on a punishing team and tight defense, or more of an open style with quicker players?

BT: Your style of play, to a certain degree, is always modeled after the group that you have. In the hockey industry, it is very cyclical. This is a copy cat business and you see who has had success, and then you see teams follow suit. I have believed for years that the game needs to be played North-South. Everybody talks about the new NHL, but I don’t necessarily think it needs to be played much different. It needs to be played at a very high speed and a highly competitive level. There are certain things that can bridge the gap as you build your team and the effort level is first and foremost. I favor a very North American style game. The NHL game is a physical game, it always has been, and it always will be. If you can get players that play with pace, compete harder, be more consistent, and have a more physical edge, then you can have success. We have some of those pieces and we are going to continue to grow that here. That’s a style of play that can be successful and fun to watch. We want something that our fans can enjoy on a nightly basis!

PC: During your time with the CHL, the league experienced tremendous growth so what made this the right time to make the move to the NHL?

BT: This has always been a career aspiration of mine. I am very proud of what we did at the CHL from a personal standpoint, but more often than not, everyone wants to get to the NHL, whether you are a coach, administrator or player. It is important to be honest with yourself about if you are ready for that position. I felt that I was ready for the opportunity and the organization is a perfect fit for me. All of the pieces really lined up, and this was the right time, right place, and the right people.

PC: Had you interviewed for positions with other NHL franchises or was this the first time?

BT: I had talked to some teams and know quite a few guys throughout the league. Last year, I was a finalist for a position, which was a great learning tool. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, but there had been discussions in the past.

PC: Don Maloney was obviously very impressed with you during the interview process. What do you think sold him on you being the right man for the job?

BT: We really connected. There was a similar philosophy and we felt at ease with each other. He had a profile of somebody and fortunately enough, my skill set matched what he was looking for. More than anything else, it was the connection.

PC: You played five years of minor league hockey in the AHL, IHL, and ECHL. Did you ever have a teammate that made it big in the NHL?

BT: I played with a lot of guys that got into coaching like Jim Playfair who is coaching in Calgary. In New Haven, I played with John Ferguson Jr. who is the General Manager in Toronto. I’ve crossed paths with a lot of guys that stayed in the game one way or another.

PC: Who was your childhood hockey idol growing up in British Columbia?

BT: In my era when I was growing up in Vancouver, the home town team was not that good, but I followed Stan Smyl and Dave “Tiger” Williams. That was during the heyday of the Edmonton Oilers, and they revolutionized the way the game was played. I was also a big fan of the New York Islanders with Bryan Trottier and that team. Obviously, like every kid in Canada, Wayne (Gretzky) was an idol and you followed the Oilers. In those days, in the Smythe Division, they would run away with it.

PC: You and your family have lived out here for a while, so what are your favorite things to do when you have free time?

BT: I spend a lot of time in the office. Now I have two little girls, so in the summer we try to get some time in the pool. The kids love CrackerJax. My wife and I try to get out and visit the great restaurants in town.

PC: If a new resident, like your boss Don Maloney, asked for a restaurant recommendation what places would you send him to?

BT: We have spent a lot of time recently at the Fox Sports Grill here at Westgate. Don is a good Italian boy so I might have to send him to Tommaso’s or maybe Mastro’s Ocean Club at Kierland. We have not hit them all yet, but we are going to take a stab at a few over time!

PC: Anything else we can share with the fans out there? Do you have a nickname? “Tree” would be an obvious choice.

BT: That’s it…I hear that more often than anything else.

Going forward we are excited! We want people to be excited as we build this thing. There are no excuses for us not to come out and compete hard every night. We look forward to the continued support and growing our fan base. We are very excited about what lies ahead.

You hear the saying over and over again, “Rome was not built in a day.” With people like Brad Treliving joining Don Maloney the Phoenix Coyotes Hockey Club, you get the feeling that day is not too far away!
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