When he's not on the ice, professional hockey player Maxime Langelier-Parent is online, working toward an MBA degree in sport business.

Maxime Langelier-Parent has been passionate about hockey his entire life.*

Growing up in the small town of Léry in Quebec, Max, like so many Canadian boys, spent his childhood in skates and pads dreaming about playing professional hockey.

The talented forward posted 18 points in 26 games during his final year of college hockey at McGill University where he majored in economics. He then signed his first professional deal in 2012, earning a spot with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

While his first season of professional hockey was cut short due to injury, Max returned to the Lightning's farm team, the Syracuse Crunch, his second year. He played for two years with the Crunch and then signed with the Elite Ice Hockey League's Nottingham Panthers in the United Kingdom.

Max has just finished his first season as center with the Panthers. While traveling across Europe from game to game, while most of his teammates would unwind by playing cards or dozing, he would spend his time on the bus doing coursework for his online MBA in sport business with Saint Leo.

Preparing for the next step in his hockey career

Knowing that a career as a professional athlete with respect to the rest of his life is relatively short, Max chose Saint Leo's online MBA program to help him prepare for life off the ice, ideally in an NHL management position.

"My dream would be to become a general manager in the NHL one day," he says. "But there are many steps before getting there."

Well aware of how competitive the sports industry has become, Max says that preparation is crucial if he wants to separate himself from other applicants.

"There are many components in a business, and I believe the MBA gives you a global understanding of those elements, which in turn, allows you to develop a better decision-making process."

Here are some more of Max's thoughts about his career in professional sports and how Saint Leo's online MBA in sport business is preparing him for his next move.

What have you enjoyed most about being a professional athlete?

Max: Being a professional athlete is not always easy. There is not much job security, you sometimes travel extensively and seasons take a toll on your body. This being said, I enjoy pushing myself every day and the perks that come with the job. I appreciate the non-routine characteristic of the job and the new destinations we get to discover.

What's been most challenging about it?

Max: I have been a little unlucky with injuries in the past few years. After three major surgeries, two on my left hip and one on my lower back, I have to admit I feel the repercussions of such events regularly. Battling to recover from surgeries isn't always easy. You must overcome the limitations of your body but at the same time bring it back to competing form as soon as possible.

When did you start thinking about a change in career and why?

Max: After my third surgery in 11 months, I started realizing my body might not be able to do this for very long and I needed to plan for the future. I was looking for something I could do while playing hockey and that would, at the same time, provide me with an edge on the competition.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Max: I have always been interested in doing an MBA. I knew my job gave me plenty of free times on weekdays, mostly afternoons, and, therefore, I decided that pursuing an MBA would be the most efficient way to use this free time.

Why did you choose an online program?

Max: Flexibility. It allowed me to perform both on the ice and at school. I currently travel between Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and it would be pretty much impossible for me to attend classes.

Why did you decide on Saint Leo?

Max: I looked online at different universities and programs and decided that Saint Leo was offering the courses that I was interested in, as well as being accredited by the major business association.

Did you have any concerns about going back to school?

Max: I was actually pretty excited about going back to school because I knew I had found a field of study that was of interest to me and that could combine my passion (sport-hockey) and my career. I think I have been pretty fortunate to have the chance to play professionally the sport I have always loved, and to add higher education to it will provide me the skills to perform in the managing side of the game.

How have you liked the classes so far?

Max: I have currently taken six classes, with two more halfway completed. I just started my first course in the sport business concentration and have to admit I love it. I am gaining a better understanding of how things work in the sport industry and, in the meantime, I can apply things I am learning.

What is the online experience like?

Max: The main advantage of online education is flexibility. You don't lose time driving to and from the university and it makes it easier to communicate with other students. The disadvantage is that it is not always easy to get motivated. I can remember many nights on the bus where all the other guys would be playing cards and I was on my computer working on essays for five or six hours. But I guess you have to know your priorities!

How do you incorporate coursework into your work schedule?

Max: It is often pretty easy to fit in coursework during weekdays since we practice and workout in the morning. I try to invest most of my afternoons reading and doing coursework to make sure I don't fall behind. On weekends, we sometimes leave on Thursday mornings and come back late on Sunday nights or early Monday mornings (around 4 a.m.). This means that I don't get much time to do coursework and have to plan ahead.

What classes are you finding most relevant to your career goals?

Max: I am just starting the sport business concentration portion. But in the MBA portion, I think accounting is key to the decision-making process. Organizations are generally profit oriented and such knowledge is crucial to achieving the firm's goals and objectives. Furthermore, because people are the most important resource in any organization, the human resource management class provided us with useful and applicable knowledge.

What kind of support do you receive from Saint Leo faculty staff?

Max: The professors are very easy to communicate with and always ready to answer any questions. My experience so far with Saint Leo staff members also has been great.

What are your plans once you complete the program?

Max: I'd like to intern with an NHL teamto learn as much as possible about how things are done in NHL franchises. I am preparing myself for this opportunity by learning about the collective bargaining agreement, constitutional laws and other laws regulating the NHL.

My dream would be to be a general manager in the NHL one day but there are many steps before getting there and I'm not in a rush. I want to learn and focus my time and energy in developing a successful career path for myself.

* Update:
Since this post was first published, Max has continued to progress in his online MBA program. He has completed his final season of professional hockey is starting an internship with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Image credits: Shooter Bob Square Lenses on Shutterstock.com and courtesy Maxime Langelier-Parent