What’s it like studying sports law? Ryan Breen ’19 had always loved hockey, and when it became clear that he wanted to work behind the scenes instead of on the ice, law school was the perfect next step. This is his story.
In the summer of 2017, Ryan Breen finally found himself on the floor of the NHL draft.
But rather than trying to make the team, Breen was there to help build it. As a professional scout for the New Jersey Devils, he had the chance to influence the picks his team would make—including the first overall pick of the draft.
Breen’s longstanding interest in hockey extends back to when he first laced up his skates at two years old. “I always knew I wanted to make this sport my career,” he recalls. “But if you’re not one of the absolute best players, you have to face the fact that making it as a pro is a long shot.” Instead, Breen devoted himself to studying the front office and resolved to make good on his dream by serving as a general manager for a professional hockey club.
He took the first step on that journey in 2012, when USA Hockey awarded him the prestigious Brendan Burke Internship—a placement that landed him a job with the Boston Bruins, working for their farm team in Providence.
Through his collaborations with Bruins staff, it became increasingly clear to Breen that his next step involved earning a law degree. “If I really wanted to succeed in hockey management,” he says, “I needed to know more than the coaching and operations dimension. Everything from understanding the collective bargaining agreement to contract and trade negotiations rely on a firm grasp of sports law.”
Now, in addition to completing coursework at New England Law, Breen attends hundreds of hockey games each year, keeping his eye out for young talent. When it comes time for his team to select new players—like they did during draft day last summer—he goes head to head with his peers from all over the world to determine who they should pick. “It can feel like a mini courtroom,” he explains. “You may be the only person who has seen this guy play. It’s up to you to represent him in front of the team and to build a compelling case as to why you think he’s the best choice.”
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