HHS grad moves to the front office: His days as a player are over, but Aaron Fox’s days in hockey are not
Back in 1994, Aaron Fox graduated from Hastings High School as one of the best hockey players to have ever worn the blue and gold at HHS.
The game is now a way of life for Fox.
He’s the sports director for a team in the Kontinental Hockey League, considered the world’s No. 2 league behind the NHL. Fox works for the Medvescak Zagreb Bears, based in Zagreb, Croatia.
Previously, the Bears played in the Austrian league. This year, they jumped up to the KHL and hired Fox to assemble a coaching staff and find a roster of players. He had the smallest budget in the KHL to work with, given just $5 million to assemble his team. One of the league’s top teams, St. Petersburg, has a $50 million budget.
“I was given a budget and had to build a team for the KHL in a short period of time,” Fox said. “We found out in April we were accepted into the league and our season started in August. I had three-and-a-half months to build an entirely new roster.”
Fox scouted in the AHL and the NHL in April and May and started the process of hiring at the end of May.
“I really enjoy everything about my job, from all of the hockey I get to watch to dealing with agents and the negotiating of contracts,” he said. “There is quite a bit of travel as well, which I have enjoyed so far. I was at the World Championships in Stockholm and Sweden recruiting. We have already played games in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which are two unbelievable cities.”That said, there are some drawbacks to the job, too.
“Obviously, not everything is easy,” he said. “Firing players or coaches and letting guys go if they are not playing well is not easy, but it is all part of the business side of things. Being a player for so long, I think that I will be able to be fair and honest in those types of situations.
“That was the main selling point while I was recruiting players. I understand what they need to do to be successful.”
He has a three-year contract in Zagreb.
Fox played in 2012-13 with the team in Innsbruck, Austria. He had 15 goals and 25 assists in 54 games and was tied for the team lead in points.
He had a contract to play there again this year, but when the opportunity came up to move to the front office in Zagreb, he took it.
“I decided this was the perfect time to move on from playing and start looking to the future,” he said. “Having the opportunity to run a team with these responsibilities at my age (37), at this level, was something I couldn’t pass up. Who knows if this opportunity would ever come to me again?
“I obviously miss playing, but I have been so busy and really enjoy what I’m doing. It has been a very easy transition.
“I will admit being a player was much easier. I just had to show up for a couple hours a day and play.”
After graduating from Hastings, Fox played junior hockey for two years with the Green Bay Gamblers. He played collegiately at Minnesota State-Mankato and went abroad in 2000. He had a 12-year career playing professional hockey overseas. During that time he won two championships and has a record in a German league for scoring six goals and recording three assists in one game.
He once scored a goal that was the No. 2 play of the week on TSN in Canada, too. That goal can be seen by going to www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HoOyDge8k4.
Fox said one of the highlights to his career was playing for Team USA in the 2005 Deutschland Cup. His grandfather Gus Heinold, a WWII vet, was able to fly to Germany and watch as Fox wore the red, white and blue.
Fox is married with two children. He met his wife, Ariane, in Germany. His son, Adam, was born in Vienna, Austria, and his daughter, Helen, was born in Innsbruck, Austria.