The September issue of the New England Hockey journal showcased its TOP 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL.
Richard Gallant - President of the Islanders Hockey Club
Richard Gallant returned to New England in 2000 after a successful business career in New York to pursue a passion project — one that entrenched him in the sport of hockey.
Less than two decades later, Gallant is commissioner of the United States Premier Hockey League, owner of the Middlesex Islanders, owner and developer of Merrimack College’s new Gallant Rink, and a member of the board of directors for the Eastern Hockey Federation and New England Girls Hockey League.
Gallant also recently brought tuition-free junior hockey to the East Coast for the first time with the National Collegiate Development Conference.
"This is what I call my out-of-control hobby," Gallant said. "I didn’t have the vision this would end up here, but I’ve worked with so many good people and families along the way. This is something unique about the Northeast."
The Islanders, now in their 40th year as an organization, have grown dramatically under Gallant’s leadership. Gallant oversaw the merger of the Middlesex Islanders and New England Huskies in 2010. The number of teams in the organization has grown since that time from 17 to 78.
The Islander teams also have been more competitive at every level. When Gallant took over the organization, Islander teams won 32 percent of their games. In 2016-17, teams won about 66 percent of their games.
The Islanders also have been one of the more philanthropic organizations in club hockey since Gallant’s arrival. In seven years, the Islanders have raised nearly $1 million for Autism Speaks.
"There are different ways to measure outcomes," Gallant said. "We have all levels of hockey, and we design programs with all different cultures so everyone is getting a great experience. We’re in the most competitive leagues in New England. By having the kids play within those leagues, it allows us to attract some of the more gifted and competitive athletes in the area." — DAN GUTTENPLAN
Sean Tremblay - Coach/GM Islanders Hockey Club
Year in and year out, the Islanders are one of the USPHL Premier Division’s best teams, and Tremblay (Newburyport, Mass.) is often the organizer of such consistency. Their head coach and general manager, Tremblay recruits from all over the country and has moved more than 200 players into the college ranks, including 10 NHL draft picks. Not bad for the program that calls Merrimack’s Lawler Rink home.
Jimmy Vesey - New York Rangers
When college seniors debate taking the free agency route — much like this Harvard product from North Reading, Mass., did in ditching his status as a Nashville Predators draft pick — it’s layman’s talk to say they’re "pulling a Vesey." On the ice he’s thrived, too, winning the 2016 Hobey Baker Award and now suiting up for the New York Rangers in the Big Apple.
Scott Fitzgerald - Asst Director amatuer scouting/Boston Bruins
As the Bruins’ assistant director of amateur scouting since 2010, Fitzgerald watches a lot of hockey — 225 games per year, to be exact, according to a 2012 Boston Globe article. Fitzgerald joined the Bruins in 2006 after seven seasons with the Blue Jackets. He is the brother of longtime NHLer and current New Jersey Devils staffer Tom, who also appears on this list.
Tom Fitzgerald - Asst. GM/New Jersey Devils
Hockey fans tune into games for the thrilling goals, open-ice hits and odds-defying saves. But it’s often those pulling the strings behind the scenes who bear the most influence, and that’s certainly the case with Tom Fitzgerald of Billerica, Mass.
He’s currently the assistant general manager of the New Jersey Devils and is helping the franchise rebuild after several down years. Fitzgerald works under Ray Shero, and in speaking to nj.com back in 2015, said his role is to help the organization carry out a broader vision.
"I truly believe I’m an information gatherer. That’s my job," Fitzgerald said. "I get all the information I can get so Ray Shero can make choices. Personnel, prospects, do we sign this guy? The value on a guy for a trade. I’m here to help him carry out his vision."
That vision, undoubtedly, is influenced by Fitzgerald’s own playing days, days that have New England stamped all over them. He played at Austin Prep in Reading, Mass., then starred for two years at Providence College before making the jump to the NHL, which culminated with the 2005-06 season as part of the Boston Bruins.
Going a step further, Fitzgerald’s impact carries on to the region today through his kids. His son Ryan was an assistant captain at Boston College in 2016-17 and now plays for the Providence Bruins. Casey, meanwhile, is entering his junior year at BC and also will be a captain.
So, through his actions, be it direct or indirect, it’s easy to see Fitzgerald’s influence all over New England hockey.
— JONATHAN SIGAL