Success Starts Off The Ice

Chris Campoli lends a voice to hockey players

2017/08/09 - Written by Graeme Carey
Credit NHLPA
Credit NHLPA
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Former NHL player, Chris Campoli, is putting his hockey experience to good use in his new role with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA).  “As a divisional player representative, my primary responsibility is player communications,” he says. “I assist Mathieu Schneider (special assistant to the executive director) day to day and also sit in on meetings in our business department, offering a player perspective to the conversations we have with our partners and licensees.”

With 12 years of experience in professional hockey, including seven in the NHL, Campoli is able to pass on what he learned from the game and make sure players are adequately represented.

Although he’s only been in his current role since July 2016, Campoli has been an active member of the NHLPA working on behalf of the players for years. Back in 2012, The Globe and Mail described him as “one of the strongest voices among the players” during the labour dispute between the NHL and the NHLPA, which would eventually lead to the 2012-2013 season lockout. 

Born in North York and raised in Mississauga, Campoli was drafted in the seventh round in 2004 by the Islanders. After three and a half seasons in New York, he would go on to play for the Ottawa Senators, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens. Following the 2012 lockout, however, he failed to find a new NHL team and instead signed with Biel HC of the Swiss National League. He spent four years in Switzerland, including a brief stop in Lugano – a largely Italian-speaking city on the border of Italy.

A self-described offensive defenseman, influenced by players like Bryan Berard and Ray Bourque, Campoli averaged nearly a point per game his final season in the OHL with the Erie Otters and racked up 34 points during his rookie campaign with the Islanders. In total, he tallied 146 points in 440 NHL games. Rather than just being a good hockey player, Campoli has always recognized the importance of being a good person first and foremost, which he believes starts at home. “There’s no question that my family has had a massive impact on my career,” he says. “Without their support behind the scenes I never would have accomplished what I did in hockey.”

Campolli’s father Gino – who was born in the town of Casamari in the province of Frosinone, not far from Rome – helped “instill the values of family and respect,” which Campoli says are “so important in the Italian culture and critical components in the person I grew up to be on and off the ice.”

One of the ways Campoli has tried to be a good person off the ice is through charity and volunteer work. “I think it’s so important as a professional athlete to give back to your community,” he says. “I remember as a little boy looking up to professional hockey players, and to know that I was in a position to have a positive impact on a young boy or girl, I took it with a tremendous sense of responsibility.”

As a junior player, he was awarded the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy, given to the OHL’s top humanitarian, for his work at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie. To this day, he continues to work with children, including through his involvement with the NHLPA’s Goals and Dreams Program. “Its the players program,” he says, “purely giving back to the communities and grass roots programs that helped our members become the athletes and people they are today.”

Since it started in 1999, Goals and Dreams has put more than $22 million towards youth programs around the world, helping give children “the opportunity to play hockey and benefit from the sport’s commitment to teamwork, discipline and physical fitness.”It’s not just about hockey, though. “Through the NHLPA Goals and Dreams program,” Campoli says, “we try to continue to make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls.”

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