📝 by Patrick Williams
Troy Bodie’s job description is quite varied, but his mandate from the Seattle Kraken is really quite simple.
That mandate? Be a go-between for the National Hockey League club with its new American Hockey League affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Be on the ground locally, get involved, and help bring the franchise to life.
“I think that’s pretty much probably the best way to sum it up,” said Bodie, Seattle’s director of hockey and business operations for Coachella Valley.
The AHL will reach its record 32nd franchise this October when the Firebirds begin play as Seattle’s new top developmental affiliate. The team will play at Acrisure Arena, an 11,000-seat facility under construction in Palm Desert, Calif., just outside of Palm Springs. The privately funded building, which will host more than 150 events annually, will feature a training facility for the Firebirds that will also serve as a community rink.
But the actual job description is far more complex for Bodie, who took the Seattle post in May 2021. Do everything from player development to helping bring a new AHL team to life to organizing local youth community clinics.
Bodie, 37, joined the Seattle organization following six seasons in scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs, including three seasons as the organization’s director of pro scouting. Before moving into management, the product of Portage la Prairie, Man., played 159 career NHL games and also logged 381 AHL contests, wrapping up his playing career in 2014-15 captaining the Toronto Marlies.
Those nine pro seasons prepared Bodie for his on-ice development work for the Kraken. For this season only, Seattle prospects are with the Charlotte Checkers in a partnership with the Florida Panthers. Bodie, who is based in Southern California, travels to work with and watch in person the organization’s young talent playing for Charlotte.
But much more goes into launching an AHL franchise beyond the on-ice component. Bodie works closely with Firebirds president Steve Fraser, who came to Coachella Valley from the Ontario Reign and helped in that club’s transition to the AHL in 2015.
Along with arena construction, the Firebirds unveiled their jerseys Jan. 24. The arena’s naming rights deal with Acrisure followed Jan. 31. But plenty more remains.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum going with the arena,” Bodie said. “We have to build out our staff, which will happen, probably in the spring, summer. From the business side, we’re selling season tickets and selling merchandise already.”
Since Acrisure Arena’s ground-breaking June 2, 2021, construction has progressed quickly in the area’s favorable dry climate. On Feb. 16, the facility had its topping-out ceremony when its final beam was put in place.
“I was in there the other day,” Bodie recounted. “They’re putting the electrical in the locker rooms. It was fun to see.”
When all that work is finished, it will be worth it for the Kraken. Moving into the Palm Springs area made plenty of sense for Seattle management. Palm Springs International Airport offers multiple direct flights to and from Seattle, which will ensure efficient player movement. At the AHL level, the Firebirds will be based in the Pacific Division and have easy day trips to see Ontario and the San Diego Gulls.
When the facility opens ― likely in December 2022 ― home ice will mean one of the most luxurious set-ups in the AHL. A concern for any player is rink amenities, and the facility will offer plenty of those. One feature will be the dressing room, which will be located between the arena and the training facility.
“You turn one way, go out one door, you go to the practice sheet,” Bodie outlined. “You go to the other door, you go to the game rink.
“We’re going to have a really, really big training gym. State of the art. The resources that Seattle’s put into that gym have been incredible so far, just with the equipment. It’ll be one of the best training gyms I’ve ever [seen]. Just having the resources for our prospects to grow and develop into NHL players, it’s going to be incredible. It’s first-class.”
The Firebirds will need more players to fill that dressing room next season. Seattle’s set-up with Charlotte and Florida means that the Kraken do not have a full contingent of players for the AHL roster under contract this season. Having a sole affiliate next season means that the Kraken will be on the hunt for more talent before next October.
“We’ll be heavy into the free-agent market,” Bodie said, “and try to find some players to compete and help us win.”
Here is more from Bodie on working with Charlotte and the Firebirds:
“I was a little skeptical of how things would go,” Bodie said of the challenges that any dual affiliation can present. “But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at all levels of how it’s been.
“The coaching staff’s been great. Management in Florida has been great. It’s been kind of one big hockey family there, and they’ve treated us well. Florida has a lot of their development staff working with our players just like they were theirs. And we’ve been not only very happy with, but very grateful how we’ve been treated in that situation, so we give them a lot of credit.”
ON COMMUNITY WORK
“We’re taking a heavy step forward in the community of really promoting the game, just from a grassroots level of teaching street hockey at the schools.
“That’s already happening right now. It’s been something kind of close to me, being from a small town. I’ve been taking a real liking into the youth hockey part of that, really making sure that there’s some sort of grassroots component to what we’re doing here.”
Patrick Williams has been on the American Hockey League beat for nearly two decades for outlets including NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, The Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM! Sports. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding coverage of the league in 2016.