On many days, Brady Morgan isn’t just the guy behind the guy.
He’s the guy … behind the guy … behind the guys.
Call it dirty work, call him the doer of those oft-underappreciated grunt duties. Morgan calls it being a “Swiss army knife,” ready to take on anything.
Leadership within the Arizona Coyotes and Tucson Roadrunners organizations agree on that. They say Morgan’s willingness to dive in will be his ticket to a long career in professional hockey.
“It’s time management. It’s realizing what’s most important in that minute, in that day, who’s asking you for what,” said Morgan “I’m big on to-do lists and notes. … I’m just trying to be a Swiss army knife and stay flexible for anything.”
Morgan, the Roadrunners’ video coach and hockey operations assistant, has been with Tucson’s American Hockey League franchise since nearly its first day of operation in Southern Arizona. His job title doesn’t tell the whole story.
Morgan is part coach and part opposition scout. And part liaison between the business office and hockey operations.
Even part travel agent, as it’s Morgan’s job to stay on a first-name basis with representatives at Southwest Airlines. The team needs to get a player from Rapid City, South Dakota — home to the Coyotes’ and Roadrunners’ ECHL affiliate — or have an incoming acquisition via trade that needs to be on the ice today?
Morgan, working the phones, is the club’s guru of getting guys to and from.
“If you see my desk and it’s got nothing on it, that’s probably when I’m looking at a lot of video helping the coaches,” he said. “And there’s times where you can’t see the desk, there’s a lot of paper. That’s probably when I’m doing travel, and flights, hotels, meals, buses, the list goes on and on.”
When the Roadrunners play at Tucson Arena, Morgan isn’t visible on the bench alongside head coach Jay Varady. He isn’t in the general manager’s box with Steve Sullivan, either. Morgan jokes that he’s out of sight “in the bunker” — the small video room where his attentiveness to the game action he sees on screen takes flight. But Varady, Sullivan and Roadrunners President Bob Hoffman each echoed the same thought: On game days, or through practices, and across the organization, Morgan’s presence is felt just about everywhere.
All three independently called Morgan, 27, the “glue” of the organization.
“With hockey teams you talk about glue guys. You need guys in the dressing room that will keep everybody together … an extension of the coaching staff, but who also understand what the players are doing. That’s what Brady is; he’s our glue guy,” said Sullivan, the Roadrunners’ general manager and Coyotes’ assistant GM this past season, who, just this week, added the title of interim general manager of the NHL franchise to his resume.
“He’s our travel agent. He’s our video coach. He helps when coaches need him on the ice, pushing pucks. He’s my assistant in regard to paperwork and making sure transactions happen … contract signings, reaching out to players and agents. It’s nonstop.”
Hoffman reiterated that it’s Morgan’s willingness master so many different components of a professional hockey operation that sets him apart.
“He’s the key to the budget in a lot of ways for the hockey side of things,” Hoffman said. “(Sullivan), of course, is the general manager of the team, but he’s not always able to be in Tucson. Brady is that conduit for him.”
Morgan said he’s humbled to know he has that kind of respect from organizational leadership. For the past month or so, Morgan has been in Glendale, contributing in other ways. Filming Coyotes practice sessions at Gila River Arena brought him back to his video roots.
Morgan is the first to admit that while career started taking shape, Tucson wasn’t a place he could have ever imagined living. The Phoenix-area native, after all, is a Sun Devil — one of the leading scorers for ASU’s Division II club hockey program.
Given the opportunity to join the team he watched up close as a kid — that’s the Coyotes — and do it 100-some-odd miles south in the Old Pueblo, Morgan jumped at it.
Tucson became home, quickly.
“I would have never written a script that I would have lived in Tucson, or even worked for a team here. But living in this city has been tremendous,” he said. The ASU-UA rivalry “will always be there, but you’ve got to take a step back and support the local community you work in — the one that’s given me this opportunity.”
Working for the Roadrunners even became a family affair of sorts. Morgan’s girlfriend, Chandler Atkins, spent three years working for the team. Her duties included helping get Roadrunners Give Back, the local branch of the Arizona Coyotes Foundation, off the ground and thriving.
“We were lucky enough to be able to help start up this franchise in our respective departments together,” Morgan said. “These are stories we can tell our kids, then our grandkids.”
Morgan isn’t sure what his future holds. But as much as he’s loved his four years in Tucson, Morgan envisions getting back to the Phoenix area at some point; ultimately, that will be when the Coyotes’ give him his own call-up.
“I’ll do anything to get to the next level — and mainly, to get to the Coyotes, which is my hometown team. That’s wherever they believe I can help in most,” he said. “That’s why I’m so grateful for this position. Everyone within the Coyotes organization, or the Roadrunners organization, I’m grateful that they see my abilities.”