As far as Grant Fagerheim is concerned, the hockey rink isn’t that different from the office or
“The most successful teams are those that play for one another, not for themselves,” the Hockey Canada
Foundation’s new chairman said recently. “It’s exactly the same in a business environment.With most
successful companies, there are leaders that present themselves and lead by making others better, while
individuals are seldom specifically named when success is achieved,” he said. “That comes from understanding
teamwork and camaraderie … and how to celebrate successes and what successes are. The highs don’t get too
high, and the lows don’t get too low.”
No doubt Fagerheim knows a thing or two about business success. Originally from small town Estevan, Sask.,
he has an undergraduate degree from the University of Calgary and attended the executive MBA program at
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He now lives with wife Penny in Calgary, where he has risen up the ranks
of Alberta’s booming oil and gas industry, founding several of his own companies along the way.
Fagerheim is currently chair, president and CEO of Whitecap Resources Inc., and sits on the board of three
international-based energy companies.
“It’s hard work, it’s commitment, it’s dedication,” Fagerheim said of life lessons he learned while
growing up playing hockey in the Prairies, including in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and has since
applied to both his professional and personal pursuits. “Hard work and sweat equity develop good
He has passed that value system down to his sons, including Brandon, who is
playing NCAA Division 1 for American International College in Springfield, Mass., and Brett, who is playing
for the St. Albert Steel of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
His strong belief that values transfer from sport over to other life
experiences is also evident in the groups he chooses to involve himself with, including the Hockey Canada
Foundation, where he is entering his sixth year on the board of directors, and the Edge School for Athletes,
where he just completed six years serving as board chairman.
“The Edge has three spheres in developing life skills,” Fagerheim said of
values emphasized at the Calgary sports school. “They combine academics, athletics and character
He’s also a proponent of financial assistance programs, including those offered
at the Edge, currently for between 20 and 30 per cent of its students, and in the overall importance of young
people having the opportunity to “combine the education environment together with their sport of choice.”
“We have to try and get as many kids playing the game as long as they possibly
can,” Fagerheim said, explaining that means breaking down financial barriers for families who can’t afford to
pay for their children to play what is becoming an increasingly pricey game. “One of the biggest initiatives
that the Hockey Canada Foundation will focus on is building more facilities.”
Fagerheim said he’d like to see new hockey facilities built on or near school
grounds, or within walking distance of neighbourhoods, adding “they don’t have to be high-cost
facilities,” in order to get more kids into the game, benefitting from all it has to offer, both on and
off the ice.
“What I’m made of is trying to think of creative and innovative ways to keep
costs down for people, so they can play the game,” he said of what he plans to bring to the Hockey Canada
Foundation board table. Selling and swapping used equipment, in addition to more development programming at
the grassroots level and more promotion at the high performance level, will also help keep Canadian hockey at
the top of its game, he said.
“There are so many life habits, so many life strategies that are developed when
you play hockey,” Fagerheim said. “The foundation very much supports that, and is really just trying to
attract and keep as many boys and girls playing our great sport as we possibly can.”
Whether it’s playing pond hockey back home in Estevan, or watching Canada’s
National Junior Team capture the attention of an entire nation at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in
Calgary and Edmonton, Alta., there is something special about hockey for Fagerheim, just as there is for
millions of us across the country.
And whether it’s in the rink or the board room, he’ll settle for nothing less
than the best from himself – or his teammates.
“It’s one of the things that holds Canada together,” Fagerheim said. “When you
think of Canada, you think of hockey.”