By Paul Ayotte
Head Athletic Trainer, Toronto Maple Leafs
PHATS: What got you started in the athletic training profession and how did you get your start in Professional Hockey?
PA: I was first introduced to the athletic training profession while in high school at a job fair. From there my interest grew and took me to the Athletic Therapy program at the University of Manitoba.
I was fortunate to get my start in professional hockey through connections that were made while attending the PHATS convention. I attended as a guest, when working junior hockey, with Rob Milette, who was then with the Manitoba Moose. Rob introduced me to Brad Harrison, who was with the Toronto Marlies. Following the meetings that year Brad reached out to let me know that the Marlies had a Head Therapist position open and he passed on my name for the position.
PHATS: You came to the NHL from the Toronto Marlies, of the AHL and the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL before that. How has your experience in these other leagues helped your transition to the NHL?
PA: I think experience in other leagues gave me the opportunity to learn the unique elements of the job while being in a more forgiving environment that was rich with learning opportunities.
PHATS: Toronto has a very celebrated hockey history. What does it mean to you to be a part of their organization?
PA: It is something that is very special and I feel grateful to be a part of. Our organization has done a remarkable job of exposing everyone to the history and what it meant and still means to the city and to the hockey community at large.
PHATS : What advice can you give to those looking to one- day work in the NHL?
PA: Use every experience and interaction as an opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally.
PHATS: What is your biggest satisfaction of the job?
PA: Some of the biggest satisfaction I think comes daily when you can interact with elite athletes and play a role in helping them achieve and excel at their craft.
PHATS: What is your biggest challenge of the job?
PA: Naturally, the same as most everyone the work / personal life balance is always a challenge and takes a constant awareness of what is most important at the end of the day. Within the room it is always a challenge juggling the multiple things that come up daily.
PHATS: How has being involved with PHATS and the annual meeting helped you professionally?
PA: Being involved with PHATS has permitted me to help with various committees and contribute in different ways. Also, the meetings are great for giving a chance to network and converse with colleagues in a different environment then the rink. The number of vendors that you can interact with is also beneficial.
PHATS: Who have been your mentors over the years and how have they
PA: I have been very lucky to work alongside some great people at all the levels I?ve been at over the years and still today within our group of practitioners.
However, two people that come to mind are Jim Ramsay and Chris Broadhurst. I had the opportunity to first meet Jim through an internship in my final year of university. Additionally, since coming to Toronto I have gotten to know and work with Chris on many occasions.
Both guys have inspired me in multiple ways. Notably, to work hard and maintain a sense of humor despite being immersed in the grind of the season day in and day out.
PHATS: What do you and your family look forward to in the off-season?
PA: With my family and my wife?s family both being out west we try to get back to one location to spend time with extended family in the off-season. We also look forward to getting away camping and some down time together.
Paul, his wife Tenille and their 6-year-old daughter Celina live in Oakville Ontario. Paul is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing and canoeing. He also enjoys spending time in the kitchen preparing his quarry or when on the road searching for craft coffee locations