When Troy Bodie was growing up in Manitoba, his father was a crop duster and his mother “ran the books” for then a small family business.
His parents, John and Shirley, have long since retired, but Bodie, 36 and the recently named head of hockey and business operations for the Kraken’s coming American Hockey League affiliate near Palm Springs, California, feels he’s emulating them by partaking in his own husband-wife business.
Of course, given his wife, 34-year-old Francesca Bodie, is president of business development for the Oak View Group — co-founded by her father, Tim Leiweke — and devised putting the Kraken affiliate in California’s desert, there’s nothing “small” about this venture they’ve mutually undertaken.
And though both technically work for different companies, Troy Bodie can easily envision the pair bringing their work home together as his parents once did.
“It’s kind of funny, because we’ve come full circle, and my wife and I are doing this now,” Bodie said. “My parents worked together their whole lives and did a great job while doing it.”
He already is used to his wife “being up late at night reading these big, long legal documents that I wouldn’t want to be a part of” and figures they’ll put their heads together after-hours while getting the affiliate’s 275,000-square-foot arena built. Though she’s overseeing construction — the project broke ground Wednesday after the local Riverside County Board of Supervisors gave their unanimous go-ahead last week — Bodie will supervise the implementation of locker rooms, training facilities and other hockey infrastructure.
He has 381 games of AHL playing experience plus 159 in the NHL to guide him, along with experience as a regional scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs before spending the past three seasons as their director of professional scouting. In addition to arena work, the Los Angeles-based Bodie will assist the Kraken with scouting and player-development insights.
It was with the Leafs that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward spent the tail end of his playing days at a time his father in law happened to be the team president. Bodie had met Francesca through mutual friends while playing for the Anaheim Ducks under then-coach Randy Carlyle and front-office adviser Dave Nonis. They both later became Toronto’s coach and GM, respectively, and wanted Bodie to try out the same year the couple married in 2013.
Leiweke had just become team president that season and had little to do with the training-camp invite. Still, it made for playful newspaper headlines such as Bodie being the “Boss’ son in law” and reinforced for him the idea of making his own way in hockey and life.
Bodie already had that mindset as a ninth-round draft pick by Edmonton who spent years in the minors before his Ducks debut in 2008. And though his Stanford-educated wife had long been tabbed as a future corporate star, she’d taken more moderate-level jobs before her father, president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, let her in any family boardrooms.
She initially hesitated telling Bodie what her father did for a living when they began dating in summer of 2009.
“It wasn’t until I got to training camp that fall that I realized what he did for AEG and him being president of the Kings and all that,” Bodie said. “I had no idea.”
Watching Leiweke operate got Bodie thinking about his post-playing career, as he’d gone from junior hockey in high school straight to the pros with no further education. He enrolled in business classes online at the University of Phoenix — taking them during down time between practices — and within four years earned his associates’ degree in small business and entrepreneurship.
Between that and scouting for Toronto, which “taught me so much more about the game than I knew as a player,” he feels ready for a Kraken challenge and crossing paths with his business powerhouse wife.
“It’ll be a lot of fun,” he said. “I certainly look forward to it.”
Former NHL players working in hockey-related roles alongside their wives remains extremely rare.
Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe and his wife, Colleen, did it when she became one of the nation’s first female sports agents and negotiated a 1973 deal to have “Mr. Hockey” play for the Houston Aeros of the fledgling World Hockey Association with sons Mark and Marty. Former Seattle Totems player Bill Dineen was coaching the Aeros and approached her with the idea.
More recently, Kraken pro scout Cammi Granato is married to former NHL player turned broadcaster Ray Ferraro. And former Canadian women’s hockey star and current Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Cassie Campbell is married to Calgary Flames assistant general manager Brad Pascall.
But the scope of the Bodie husband-and-wife AHL duties and frequency with which they’ll likely intersect is unique.
“It was really kind of her idea to bring this arena to Palm Springs,” he said of Francesca Bodie, who declined to be interviewed for this story. “She looked at the market and couldn’t believe there wasn’t an arena there for all the people it had. It was her idea right from the get-go, and she’d worked her tail off to get it off the ground. I give her full marks, and now she jokes that we’ll have to work together.”
Kraken general manager Ron Francis said the arrangement should keep the couple closer to their sons, 6-year-old Ace and 1-year-old Duke, with the arena only a 90-minute drive from L.A. Francis said he’ll also include Troy Bodie in Kraken expansion preparations given his scouting and supervisory experience with Toronto.
“He’ll have his hands in a lot of things for us,” Francis said.
It was Francis who made the call to hire Bodie, who played briefly for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010-11 when Francis was an associate coach there. Francis chuckled when Bodie’s relationship to the Leiwekes was broached.
“His father in law is not my boss,” Francis quipped. “Obviously, Tim (Leiweke) is with OVG.”
True, but Francis’ jokes aside, there remains an intertwining between OVG and the Kraken. Tim Leiweke’s younger brother, Tod, is the Kraken’s CEO and, when still an NFL executive in 2017, played it coy when asked whether he’d head up Seattle’s hockey franchise on his brother’s behalf.
“I think we love each other too much,” he said at the time.
But then he quickly mentioned he’d probably leave the NFL to work alongside his niece if she asked.
“She’s a sharp one,” he said of Francesca. “I’d have a hard time saying no to her.”
Francesca Bodie oversees multiple global projects for OVG, including raising the capital for the $1-billion-plus makeover of Climate Pledge Arena. She also has spearheaded OVG arena ventures in Milan; Long Island, New York; Austin, Texas; and Manchester, England.
The Coachella Valley project to house the Kraken’s farm team is aiming for October 2022 completion. For next season, the Kraken will place eight to 12 players on a shared AHL affiliate with another to-be-named NHL club.
Francesca Bodie has far more experience than her husband at working alongside family. In a September 2017 profile on her father for The Seattle Times, she described being encouraged to butt heads with him in meetings when she believed strongly enough in something.
“He wants everyone to be all in,” Bodie said. “And with that he understands that people are going to have questions or look at things from a different perspective.”
But she also knew where to draw the line.
“When he says, ‘Hey, we’re doing this,’ I shut my mouth and figure out how to do it.”
The lines aren’t so apparent in a husband-wife paring where neither technically works for the other. But Troy Bodie, who said his wife worked hard to overcome the “boss’s daughter” stigma just as did he the “boss’ son in law” moniker, offered a tongue-in-cheek guess at how that might go.
“I always say I never win any sort of argument at home,” he said. “So how am I ever going to win one with her in the workplace?”