By Matt Langone
In 1992, Barry Hanrahan's days of rooting for the Boston Bruins came to an abrupt ending when he landed his first NHL job with the league's new first-year franchise.
"I figured I'd stop my allegiance to the Bruins in 1992 when the (Tampa Bay) Lightning played the Bruins for the first time," said Hanrahan, who was ironically hired into Tampa's public and media relations department by Bruins legend Phil Esposito, who was the founder of the Lightning and served as President and General Manager until 1998.
Hanrahan was born and raised in Gloucester and graduated from Gloucester High School in 1986. He was always drawn to the rink growing up, as he played Cape Ann Youth Hockey and was a loyal fan of the Bruins.
Today, Hanrahan is employed by a different NHL franchise, has more responsibility and is emphatically rooting against the Bruins. He is the Assistant General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and has held that position since 2005-2006. Those same Flyers who find themselves trailing the Bruins 3-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. The Flyers face a must-win in tonight's Game 4 in Philadelphia (7 p.m.).
"Once I got into this business, I realized how involved and how attached you get to a team," said Hanrahan, who now resides about 10 miles outside of Philly in Haddon Township, N.J. with his wife and three sons. "Obviously there are the business reasons of why you get attached, but you put so much into a year and a lot goes into it emotionally. Especially during a playoff series."
As suggested by his title, Hanrahan is an important cog in the Flyers organization. He works closely with General Manager Paul Holmgren on building and developing the team. Hanrahan's main responsibilities involve dealing with players salaries, such as arbitrations, contract agreements, negotiations and extensions. He received his law degree from Widener University School of Law in Delaware in 2006.
"The public will always see the offseason as the down time, but that is our busiest time of year," Hanrahan said. "That is when we are building our team, signing free agents and holding camps. Once the season begins, it's all player personnel oriented. I'm watching the roster and the salary cap, and scouting. Paul always keeps everyone in the loop and communicates very well."
After his seventh-seeded Flyers lost Game 1 (5-4 in overtime) last Saturday in Boston, Hanrahan visited his hometown and his parents Marty and Carol Lee, who have lived in Gloucester for over 50 years. At that point, he expected the series to be long and competitive, as did most people. However, it doesn't appear that way now with the Bruins having four chances to close out Philly.
Still, Hanrahan is enjoying his new hometown.
"Philly is a terrific city and a great place to raise a family," he said. "Where we live now is a lot like suburban life north of Boston. The culture in Boston and Philadelphia are similar. There is a great passion for sports in both places. In fact, the cities mirror each other."
After graduating from GHS, Hanrahan spent two years at North Shore Community College, and even did some writing for the Times, covering Intertown League Baseball. He then went on to get his four-year degree from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. He majored in sports management and performed an internship with the NBA's Orlando Magic.
"I always enjoyed sports and wanted to do something that would keep me around sports," said Hanrahan. "Without a doubt, hockey is my favorite."
He spent six years with the Lightning, working the first five years in public and media relations. He then was brought into the hockey department, where he handled team travel, among other duties.
A similar position opened up with the Flyers in 1997, and Hanrahan was hired for the job. He was immediately more involved in administrative duties, serving as director of team services until becoming assistant GM in 2005.
Hanrahan sometimes invites friends from the Gloucester area, or elsewhere, to attend Flyers games at Wachovia Center. There is just one condition.
"I always make sure they have plenty of orange on," he joked.