Former Saskatoon Quakers winger Vukie Mpofu admitted that he knew after one season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) that he won’t be able to make it through the National Hockey League (NHL).
However, the 26-year-old didn’t get discouraged by this fact and found a different path to the pro league. Mpofu is currently in his second season as manager of hockey operations and legal affairs for the Los Angeles Kings. The Abu Dhabi born is involved in player contract negotiations, managing the salary cap and collective bargaining issues. He also works with Los Angeles’ analytics staff and does legal work for Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Kings’ parent company.
“I had a chance to play with Haydn Fleury and against guys like Leon Draisaitl and Sam Reinhart, so I got to see up close and personal what NHL players look like,” said Mpofu, as quoted by NHL.com. “After that season, not getting drafted [by an NHL team], I realized, ‘OK, it’s probably a long shot for me to make the NHL as a player.'”
Vukie Mpofu represented Red Deer at WHL
Mpofu, who didn’t have a point in four games with Red Deer in the 2012-13 season, went on to play 65 games for them in 2013-14 in which he had 15 points (nine goals, six assists) as a 17-year-old. Currently, he’s also responsible for the employment contracts for the Kings as well as the staff of the Ontario Reign, their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate.
“To be sitting there on the floor was definitely special for me, quite a unique and cool experience,” Mpofu said. “The day before the draft started, when I went there for the orientation on entering the pick, I definitely took some time to kind of look around and take it in. Obviously, it being in Montreal, it was more special, such a unique and iconic venue in the sport of hockey.”