By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
“I’m just like anybody else, I’m on a job search.” – Eric Nystrom, Former NHL Player.
We previously mentioned in our chat with Tim Conboy that some former NHL players “like to ride off, quietly, into the sunset; popping up every now and again for special occasions.” Others like to stick around the game in various capacities, as a coach or as an executive. Meanwhile, there are some who prefer to let that part of their lives fade away. That’s not to suggest they didn’t like their time in the NHL, it’s just that, sometimes, once the skates are hung up, it’s on to something new and unrelated to hockey.
That last group is where Eric Nystrom lands. The former 2002 First-Round pick of the Calgary Flames and son of Islanders legend Bob Nystrom, is completely focused on a second career, one that is as different from hockey as can be. “I’m really not that immersed in the game at all,” said Nystrom. “I did tune into the playoffs a little more than I had since I finished playing. But, I really haven’t been that involved in watching or anything of that regard. I’ve got two young kids who have been a major time consumer. (Chuckles). I really have not been very into hockey since I finished playing.”
“The job I’m (currently) looking at is in the cyber security information technology space,” Nystrom explained. “It’s completely unrelated to sports. I just don’t really see myself venturing into sports, even though that’s what my degree is in. It’s funny how that works out.”
What’s the degree Nystrom mentioned? Well, when he was done playing in The NHL, he went back to school and eventually graduated from The University of Michigan with his Master’s in Sports Management. I’m not too familiar, personally, with the ins and outs of the school, but I am very familiar with the degree as I received my Master’s in Sports Management from Brooklyn College. So I understand the type of course load Nystrom went through to receive the degree. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. Of course, that’s where the similarities end.
Let’s find out why Nystrom chose to go the path he has.
“I was doing an MBA program online that my agent set up,” Nystrom explained. “They started this program called the ‘Business of Hockey Institute.’ The platform was this online University based in Canada. So I started doing that and then I was approached by one of the faculty members at the University of Michigan – through a family friend. He said, ‘you know, it’s not really an accredited University. Why don’t you come and apply for this program?’
“So, I thought, ‘what a great opportunity to go back to where I played my college hockey. It’s a great University and I already had an undergrad degree from there. Why not go for the Master’s at Michigan. It’s definitely not gonna hurt.’ That’s kind of how I got turned into the program and I did really well in school.”
That degree also led Nystrom to becoming a lecturer at The University for a little while.
“COVID hit and we were still in the area,” Nystrom said. “A teaching position came about where there was an opening for a lecturer. So, they asked me if I wanted to fill the position. And it kind of snowballed into that. I’ve been in sports my whole life, know all about a lot of aspects of the sport/entertainment industry and it just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Teaching proved to be a good transitional fit for Nystrom, but it’s real estate where his heart and head lie.
“Real estate is a huge interest of mine,” Nystrom began. “And that was kind of what I focused on within Sports Management at Michigan. I took the more real estate focused sport management courses. It’s just a great way to build wealth and build passive income. A teammate of mine in Nashville was buying up some rental properties and asked if I wanted to partner on it. And I said, ‘let’s do it.’ I just dove into the pool and loved learning the financial side of it.”
“I just find the topic very interesting,” Nystrom continued. “I was never good at math. (In fact) I was a terrible math student, but, for some reason, real estate finance just clicks in my head. I just love that aspect of it. I didn’t dip my toe in the pool, I kind of jumped into that one and I’m so happy I did. Plus, you get more experience in it. No education can teach you what you learn in real life situations. I feel like that’s what I got with investing in real estate.”
That real world real estate experience has been so important to Nystrom that he wishes he’d have learned about it sooner in life. And it’s also something he wishes kids currently entering The NHL would learn about.
“I always say, I wish I had learned what I learned about real estate earlier on,” Nystrom said. “I still made a ton of money. Invested it. I’ve got a nice nest egg, but I never wanna have to dip into that nest egg. So you gotta find avenues to continue to earn. Now, I’m looking for a little bit more of a conventional job to get something more stable. But with my real estate, had I learned what I learned now, when I was earning as much as I was, I’d have that. I’d be able to have a little bit more ease getting the lending to pick up rental properties. That mailbox money people always talk about, I’d have a much greater amount of mailbox money coming in had I bought a home in Dallas or two rental properties there.”
“I learned when I was at the end of my career, how to make it work,” Nystrom continued. “I wish I could go back and mentor all these young players on the things they could do so that when they retire and that spigot of money turns off, they’ll still have a substantial amount coming in monthly from passive income; I wish somebody had taught me what I learned at the end of my career. (Previously) I did some fundraising for this private equity real estate fund in the single family space. I was with some genius real estate people. And that was basically a crash course MBA in real estate. What I learned in those two-months, every single young player coming into the league should have to do an internship like that for two- or three-months to understand how it all works.”
Those are wise words from Eric Nystrom. Perhaps more NHL players will see what he’s doing and start prepping for their post-NHL lives sooner. If Nystrom gets his wish, they certainly will.