Dec. 7, 2010
When Brad “Dogg” Thompson works his 1,000th game in professional hockey on Wednesday, December 8, he will not be looking back at the number of times he has walked out to the bench or sharpened skates, but rather how many relationships he has built over the years. A true people-person, Thompson measures his success by the places he’s been and people he’s met during his 14-year journey.
“I do this job because I enjoy it. Once I don’t enjoy it anymore, I won’t be around,” said Thompson.
“Grand Rapids is a good organization and from the start, everybody has treated me awesome. I have been able grow into the job, starting off by not even knowing much about pro hockey and then having the chance to move up and be the equipment manager.”
Thompson still aspires to one day make one more move up and work in the NHL before he decides to enter a hockey-free chapter of his life. He has received tastes of the NHL by working for the Red Wings during their past few playoff runs, and even has a 2008 Stanley Cup Championship ring to show for it. But if his call-up to be an equipment manager in the big league does not come, he is fine with that as well.
“I really love Grand Rapids, but my goal is still to be working in the NHL,” Thompson said. “If that doesn’t happen, I am stable here and fine with that too. Like I said, I really enjoy working for the Griffins organization and I am happy here.”
Obviously, 1,000 games provides many memories for Thompson, who notes the Griffins’ Game 7 come-from-behind win against the Manitoba Moose in the 2006 North Division Finals as one of his fondest. He is also quick to note however, that more important than a specific event, are the people and players he has come to know over the years.
“I enjoy seeing a lot of my buddies doing well in Detroit and still keep in touch with many of them.” Thompson said. “A lot of the guys I’ve gotten to know over the years are real friendly, like Joey MacDonald, Tomas Kopecky, Jiri Hudler, Darryl Bootland and the list goes on and on. Guys like that stand out and will build a relationship with you outside of just hockey.
“Just traveling over the years and making all kinds of new friends has been great,” Thompson continued. “There are so many fun things that happen here, whether it’s skating after the games with all the stick boys or something else. It’s just fun.”
As far as what Thompson plans to do when his hockey career is over, he has one idea, but either way he plans to be around people.
“I wouldn’t mind going back to UPS. It might sound weird, but I worked at Airborne Express before the Griffins and I enjoyed delivering packages,” Thompson said. “It’s just like here where you meet and talk to new people all the time and just enjoy your life.”
Enjoying life is exactly what Brad Thompson is doing right now, and will likely continue to do for a much longer hockey career than these first 1,000 games, a milestone that will be celebrated the only way for someone that likes to be around people can be, and that is to invite everyone you know out to your big event.
“My wife called 54 of our closest friends, bought tickets for them, so they will all be there with us,” Thompson commented. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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