An interview with Minnesota NHL Alumni President Brad Maxwell on what’s happening now, and what’s on the horizon for the Minnesota NHL Alumni Association:
Brad Maxwell, the Canadian-born defenseman, was a 1st round (7th overall) NHL draft choice whose 10-plus year career stats reveal 612 games played while amassing 98 goals, 270 assists, and 1,292 penalty minutes. Additionally, he’s suited up for 79 NHL playoff games.
Following his North Star days, Brad settled into his own business as a cabinetry craftsman and a member of the MN NHL Alumni, leading quickly to a title addition.
“I came home and told my wife, ‘Well, I’m President now,’” Maxwell, said with a laugh. “We both just kind of laughed about it and here we are eight years later”.
“My wife calls me a ‘poof guy’; I have big ideas and big plans for all kinds of things I want to do and ‘poof’, I do it. She helped me a lot at the beginning because truthfully there was so much to acclimate myself to as I initiated the roll of leading our Alumni group.”
We caught up with Brad to hear about what the MN NHL Alumni has accomplished, and his vision for the group in the future.
MN NHL Alumni: So what made you want to take the leap and become the group’s president?
Brad Maxwell: It’s just something I wanted to do. It felt natural. Then-president Tom Reid had the position for almost 20 years and he was increasingly busy with his restaurant [Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub] and his demands of being a broadcaster for the Wild, so when he said the position was open, I thought, at the time, it was something I should do. It’s worked out very well.
MN NHL Alumni: You guys have always been active, but what are some of the biggest accomplishments the group has achieved in your presidential tenure?
Maxwell: While we’ve had multiple accomplishments, I’d have to say a major highlight was the outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium in 2016 [against the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni]. Likely that was the biggest event we’ve ever had. It was really something special. However, I can’t just highlight that event solely. We have a mission of charitable fundraising… mostly through celebrity-style games. While we’ve used those funds for many charitable causes over the years the one we’re most proud of is our ongoing AED program whereby we purchase and donate lifesaving defibrillators to youth hockey arenas that can’t afford them – it’s a great program for all!
MN NHL Alumni: Talk about some of the charities the association supports.
Maxwell: We try to give back as much as we can. Each year, beyond our primary AED program focus, the alumni Charitable Giving Committee donates to a number of youth-oriented organizations like Children’s Hospital and certain underserved youth hockey groups that underwrite expenses for young players who can’t afford participation fees. It’s a good feeling for me to know that our Alumni fundraising efforts have helped where needed.
MN NHL Alumni: What else does the group do to help in varying degrees of the game?
Maxwell: Firstly, we have an excellent and evolving relationship with the Minnesota Wild, especially with their MN Wild Foundation. Beyond our celebrity games we add funding to our charitable donations through an annual golf tournament, appearances, autograph signings, etc., and this year we even hosted a fundraising fishing tournament.
MN NHL Alumni: Where do you see the alumni group going? What changes would you like to see?
Maxwell: In my mind, sometimes ‘changes’ come in the form of ‘challenges’. The current challenge for any membership group is maintaining a high level of participation. Today’s current players generally don’t reside in Minnesota after retiring as players of the pre-2000 era did. Understandably, sometimes even the local ones become so involved with family and youth coaching that they are short of community time. It’s a challenge, but the organization believes it’s important to give back to the fans and the community that gave players their livelihood. As to where we are going, that’s easy, we’ll adapt as we’re going forward.
MN NHL Alumni: With the North Stars moving out, how has the Wild embraced and helped the alumni?
Maxwell: As I mentioned prior, our Association has a solid rapport with the Wild organization. Our liaison with the Wild is Wayne Peterson (Director, Community Relations) who has always been great to work with on many fronts, and I know that will continue moving into the future.
Additionally, keeping in mind former North Star players don’t have an active team to associate with like other former players, one of my goals when I started this president’s position, was to figure out a way to all come together as one group–Wild and North Stars. That’s why we are the “MN NHL Alumni”—not the Wild or North Stars Alumni. My goal is to get us back under one flag and I think the Wild see the same value in that. We are going to keep working in that direction. To all NHL Alumni I say “You’re welcome here and we appreciate you”.