There will come a day, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing BJ Crombeen admitted, when he simply will hang up the skates and close the curtain on his career in the National Hockey League.
It might not occur soon, but still, he said, “I want to feel prepared.”
That explains, perhaps, why the Bolts forward is starting to plan for his future beginning now, in the present.
Crombeen, 27, recently finished up his college degree in business administration through correspondence courses provided by the University of Phoenix. The endeavor was something that he started his last year in junior hockey, but was put on hold for a while, as he often found it difficult to find a program that worked out conveniently with the NHL schedule.
After matriculating at three different universities in a span of about three years, including York University in Toronto and Athabasca University in Alberta, things finally came to a close this past August, as Crombeen received his diploma in the mail.
“It was challenging, but it was always something I wanted to do,” Crombeen said.
The experience, too, proved so invaluable that upon receiving his degree, Crombeen elected to sign up for even more classes, enrolling online to complete post-graduate coursework that he is now currently in the process of doing.
“I want to play hockey as long as I can,” Crombeen said. “But even at that, when you retire from the game, you still got a lot of years of your life left ahead of you.”
Plus, he added, “seeing the other side of the game is something I’ve always been interested in.”
I want to play hockey as long as I can, but even at that, when you retire from the game, you still got a lot of years of your life left ahead of you. - BJ Crombeen
It goes without saying, then, that Crombeen serving as the Lightning’s player representative in the ongoing labor negotiations preceding the conclusion of the lockout was certainly no coincidence.
He excelled in the same capacity as a member of the St. Louis Blues last season prior to joining the Lightning, mostly for the experience alone that could provide him with ideas for career options once his playing days are over.
As part of the negotiating committee, Crombeen was one of the individuals who was perhaps more involved and more hands-on than some others, and also was tasked with relaying messages and correspondence back to the union in somewhat of a liaison-type role.
All of it - which he did in his spare time - should make for an easier transition into the business world, he believes, further on down the road.
“The entire experience really allowed me to see and understand a whole different side of the game,” Crombeen added. “Taking it all into account, I think it’s all very important.”