(Linkoping, SWE) – Over the past thirty-five years as a collegiate and professional hockey player, then the president of a professional hockey team, a television broadcaster for Swedish professional hockey, and as a professional hockey agent, Mike Helber has found success in every endeavor he has undertaken.
This past Wednesday he hung up the headphones for the final time with Swedish broadcaster CMORE (which has the rights to the Swedish Hockey League and Swedish Alsvenskan) in order to spend more time with his family while he continues to build up his agent business representing Swedish professional hockey players.
Mike began his hockey career starring at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he grew up. His success at Pioneer led him to being drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1988 NHL Draft and earned a roster spot on legendary coach Red Berenson’s Michigan Wolverines hockey team. After lettering for Michigan for four seasons, his only opportunity in North America was to play for the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. It was at that point when Helber made a life-altering choice.
"The ECHL today is not what it was 20 years ago," Helber told NHL.com in 2009. "I refused to play there and a friend of mine who played at Michigan had come to Sweden and had a good year. He said, 'Why don't you come here?' He said it was a great place to come."
Helber was considering graduate business school but decided to postpone that to make the adventure to Sweden with the idea of staying for a couple of seasons with Linkoping, which played in lower tier of professional hockey in Sweden. Twenty-nine years later, he still has not left Linkoping.
After completing his fourth season, Mike finally planned to attend graduate business school in the United States after being accepted at University of Michigan as well as the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Business.
"I heard enough from Red Berenson that I wasn't a hockey player, to go get a real job," Helber later joked with NHL.com in 2009.
It was in 1996 when fate intervened once more. Linkoping's chairman of the board offered him a contract to stay and the option to go to graduate business school in Sweden at Linkoping University. So Helber stayed in Linkoping where he completed his Masters of Business Administration, learned to speak Swedish fluently, and eventually married with his wife, Cecilia, with whom he has three children.
A few seasons later Mike played a major role in Linkoping’s promotion to the Swedish Elite League in 2000 (now the Swedish Hockey League). When he decided to hang up his skates after eleven professional seasons, his accomplishments as a player were permanently recognized when his #16 jersey was retired in the rafters at Linkoping’s Saab Arena. He was later honored again when he was inducted into the Ann Arbor Sports Hall of Fame – both rare feats on two different continents.
From the ice to the executive office, Helber made an equally smooth transition as president of the Linkoping HC for twelve seasons between 2002 and 2014. During the time Helber spent in that role he oversaw the transition of Linkoping from the smaller, thirty-year old Stångebro Ishall into the modern Cloetta Center (now Saab Arena). It was a facility more befitting a club now in the premier division of Swedish hockey. During his time as President, Linkoping HC regularly contended among the top teams in the Swedish Hockey League, losing in the finals twice to Modo and HV71 in 2007 and 2008.
After twelve seasons in that role, Helber was looking for a change of pace and made the decision to enter sports broadcasting in 2015 as CMORE began its contract covering the Swedish Hockey League and Swedish Alsvenskan. During the last six seasons, he has covered hundreds of games broadcast to thousands of homes, bars and restaurants in Sweden, becoming a recognizable face in Swedish hockey.
"I want to thank my colleagues, C More, HA and all hockey lovers for allowing me to be a small part of hockey Sweden," Helber told the media after Wednesday’s finale.
While his critically acclaimed performance as a pundit on CMORE was proceeding smoothly, Mike began to transition into his current role as professional player agent. Recognizing that building that business organically would take time by developing junior players, he became licensed by SICO to represent players in Sweden and joined Maloney & Thompson Sports Management in 2018.
In a relatively short period of time, Mike has unsurprisingly enjoyed success in this new role, with several clients being selected to the Swedish national teams or earning NCAA scholarships, and three players being drafted into the NHL since 2018.
“Mike has been invaluable for providing first-class service to players in Sweden in the relatively short time he has been with us,” said Andrew Maloney, an NHLPA certified agent and one of the owners of Maloney & Thompson Sports Management, “and we are looking forward to what the future will bring over the longer term.”
With this move away from broadcasting, Helber will be able to devote more time to spend with his family and continue to expand the excellent player representation he has collaborated with Maloney & Thompson during the past three seasons.