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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Every weekend fans pack the Von Braun Center to watch the Huntsville Havoc play hockey.  The games are great, and the players are doing what they love, but what the fans don’t see is everything that goes into paying minor league hockey.  The life is far from glamorous.  “Playing a game, getting on the bus, traveling six or seven hours and going to the next city.  There is that part,”  Havoc head coach Glenn Detulleo said.   “Really for the players it’s the six months away from the game.  All of these guys when they leave they find regular jobs and work 40 hours a week.”

Find a day job during the off season isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  The majority of the players on the Havoc roster are from Canada, and trying to find a well paying job when you plan on leaving the country after a few months is a huge challenge.  Detulleo knows the struggle from his playing days before becoming the team’s head coach.  “Employers aren’t going to hire someone for a really good job knowing you are only going to be there for a short amount of time.  They aren’t going to invest the time and training when they know you are going to leave.  A lot of the jobs I worked were labor jobs or landscaping.”

Some guys are lucky and have a job that works perfect with their playing schedule.  Havoc defenseman Andy Willigar is an athletic trainer that specializes in hockey.  He told WHNT News 19’s Chase Horn that it works out perfect, because when his playing season ends his second season begins.  “I work with younger athletes, even some guys my own age, or guys I compete against during the season.  It’s a great job, I’m home from April to October, and that’s when guys are training for the upcoming season, so it works great for me.”

So players work all summer to get back to playing hockey, but they aren’t getting rich on the ice either.  The SPHL salary cap is just $5,600 dollars a week, and that’s to pay 18 players.  That means the average player for Huntsville makes just $300 dollars a week.  Every one on the roster knows this going in, and has no problem with it as long as they get to do what they love.  “We make enough to, we get by and live comfortably for sure. We are helped out by the fine people of Huntsville and Madison for sure as well,” Willigar said.  “It’s playing here, playing in front of our fans, we have the greatest crowd in the SPHL.  Playing in front of 6,000 people a night, that’s more than the home town I grew up in.  It’s pretty cool for guys like myself coming down from Canada, it doesn’t get better than this.”