Locker room: Tyler Fleck
Hockey veteran, teacher, artist, entrepreneur
Tyler Fleck listens to the National Anthem prior to the Oilers’ matchup against the Rapid City Rush on Nov. 8, 2011.
Veteran hockey defenseman Tyler Fleck, 33, of the Tulsa Oilers is in his 13th year in the Central Hockey League. He is also approaching his 700th CHL regular-season game, ranking him among the Top 5 in league history.
Off the ice, Fleck has several business interests that keep him busy in the offseason.
TulsaPeople caught up with Fleck after a recent practice.
How did you start playing hockey?
Like about every kid in Canada, you have hockey on your mind and it’s the thing to do. My dad (Allan) was a hockey player and was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1974. He coached me all the way up to the Bantam League. I then moved away to play triple-A Midget hockey. Actually, at age 15 to 16, I was probably better at baseball than hockey. I separated my shoulder at age 17 in hockey and was never able to throw a baseball the same. So I stuck with hockey.
You have played in the CHL for a number of years. What are some of the changes you have seen in the game?
The talent level is so much better now. These young guys coming in all have great hands and can skate and shoot great.
You are the Oilers team captain. What are your responsibilities as such?
As an older player, I can work with the younger players and just try to help them refine their game and help them mature. They are the future of the game.
What do you enjoy about playing hockey?
Probably just the camaraderie with the guys. Playing with my teammates, laughing together, going through the good times as well as the bad times together are what make it fun.
What injuries have you suffered during your career?
Actually, I’ve been pretty fortunate that I haven’t had a whole lot of major injuries. The only season-ending injury I had was when I first came to Tulsa and blew out my right shoulder. Other than that, I’ve been pretty lucky.
How is the BOK Center to play in?
It is probably in the Top 3 arenas in all of minor league pro hockey. It’s an awesome building. We’re very lucky to play in that building.
What are your interests outside the sport?
I play a little golf and I still like to watch baseball. I really like family time and being a dad to my 7-year-old daughter.
You have some off-season businesses. Tell us about them.
I own a hockey school in Saskatchewan during the summer that is doing well. It’s been going on now for about 10 years. We run about 300 kids through it each summer, and it has been a real success. Last summer, we also started a hockey school here in Tulsa. We’re looking at having about 100 kids for the school here in June.
And you also have a hockey jersey business?
That was something I just kind of fell into. I do graphic design as a hobby. With my hockey school, I wanted to get the kids something better than just an off-the-shelf jersey. I searched out a manufacturer in China, made up some templates, came up with some designs and from there have made jerseys for several teams from across Canada and the United States. The name of the company is Jersey Monster. Right now, it’s more of a hobby, but I hope to build it into something more.
Would you like to coach after your playing career?
Coaching is something I’m looking at doing. I think I would probably be better at coaching than I was at playing.