New York Islanders Assistant to the General Manager Kerry Gwydir loves coming to work every day for obvious reasons. He’s a Huntington native who watched the Islanders win four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980’s. As a member of the Islanders Hockey Ops team, he’s learned to separate business from fandom, but when he walks into his office at Nassau Coliseum, he feels like he’s won the jackpot.
“I have my dream job,” Gwydir said. “I get to work for the team I grew up watching win Stanley Cups and now I’m that one guy out of a million that got a job everybody seems to want.”
His ascent has more to do with tireless, sometimes thankless work, than winning any sort of lottery. Gwydir’s first two seasons with the Islanders were unpaid, writing stories for the team as an intern.
With no guarantees, but armed with a relentless drive, Gwydir accepted any and every task that came his way. Eventually, he was brought on as a full-time employee in the PR department and never turned down an opportunity to dabble in hockey ops, scouting or team services.
He credits Stan Fischler – whom he interned with – for recommending him to the Islanders and helping him get his foot in the door. He credits former General Manager Mike Milbury for allowing him to grow and develop, picking up new skills along the way.
“I owe a lot to Stan, he’s the one who fought to get me here,” Gwydir said. “Milbury showed me that Hockey Ops was the way to go. Those are two huge mentors in my life.”
By the 2001-02 season, Gwydir was acting as the Manager of Team Services, overseeing the day-to-day operations on the road. Working closely with the players, Gwydir became friends with then-goaltender Garth Snow, the start of a friendship and partnership that’s lasted over 14 years. Gwydir serves as Snow’s right-hand man.
It’s hard to pick out one moment over such a long Islanders career – his first game was April 4, 1998 – but the intensity of the 2002 playoffs, as well as the improbable 2007 stretch run stand out.
“There are so many moments I’ll never forget here,” Gwydir said.
This season holds special meaning too, as Gwydir feels that this is the team Snow and his hockey ops department set out to create at the start of the rebuild.
“We haven’t won any Cups, but it’s starting to feel like we’re that Chicago team, the Kings, where you have a core here and you know there’s more coming. It’s the process of being patient, picking the right guys and creating the right culture.”
Gwydir has helped that process, whether it’s contributing to signings, or taking some of the load off Snow. He’s not the public face of hockey ops, but behind the scenes, he’s the ultimate role player.
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