BY JEFF FALK
As our capitalist society evolves, retiring may or may not become an out-dated concept. To this point, what we’ve learned about retirement is that it can be a blessing and a curse.
At the ripe old age of 36, former Hershey Bear Mitch Lamoureux didn’t retire from professional sports as much as he moved on to the next stage of his life. But no matter how one looks at it, Lamoureux’s transition has been a smooth one.
Lamoureux, an American Hockey League Hall-of-Famer, is currently the Director of Business Development for the Pennsylvania Central Credit Union. Since he retired in 1999, Lamoureux has held two other ‘real world’ positions.
First, he was the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the United Hockey League. Then for five years, he was involved in Sales Finance for the Palmyra-based Klick-Lewis car dealership.
For Lamoureux, the one common theme has been that he’s always enjoyed what he’s done.
“For most of the guys I know, it was a smooth transition,” said Lamoureux, a resident of Palmyra. “Most of that was that they had a good work ethic instilled in them. They had a lot of pride in themselves.
“I didn’t put a whole lot of thought in it,” Lamouruex added. “I wasn’t afraid to do something different. I did what I had to do to provide for my family.”
Lamoureux played 17 years of professional hockey, mostly in the minor leagues, and eight of which were spent with Hershey. By professional athletic standards, Lamoureux defied odds and played for pay much longer than the average pro does.
“I never worried about what I was going to do when I retired,” said Lamoureux, now 48. “I was coaching at the time, so I was still involved with hockey. That helped a lot. When I was playing, I worked at Frederick Chevrolet selling cars in the off-season. That’s where I learned the car business. I knew eventually that I had to make a living in the real world.
“I didn’t work as a kid, because I was playing hockey,” Lamoureux added. “Yeah, I do like my work. It’s a nice gig. I enjoy being around people.”
American Hockey League players make predominantly more money than the average income in this country – some would refer to it as a ‘comfortable living’. But it is not nearly enough to retire on. Not working after retirement isn’t really an option.
“I never was in the higher echelon of making good money,” said Lamouruex. “A lot of it is based on where you are drafted. If you want to know what guys make today, just take what I made and add a zero to the end of it.
“For most guys who retire, they’ll still need to find work, with the way the economy is today,” Lamoureux continued. “Let’s face facts. The more you make, the more you spend. They’re used to a certain lifestyle. I’d be bored stiff if I didn’t have to go to work. There’s only so much golf I can play. And if I didn’t have to work, I’d be really fat.
“Playing in the AHL, you can make a very good living. And I’m talking the average salary. But you’re going to have to work when you retire.”
When Lamoureux looks back at his playing days, it is with fondness and without regret.
“I retired because it was long enough,” said Lamouruex. “It was a mutual thing. I probably felt like I could still play. But enough was enough. I don’t sit there and reminisce. When I look back, I look at how I enjoyed the game, how I enjoyed the competition.
“Everything, the whole scope, is totally different being in the business world,” continued Lamoureux. “Playing hockey was the best job in the world. By playing as long as I did, I kind of tripled the odds. I loved playing hockey.”
A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Lamoureux set down roots in Palmyra in 1990. He’s been here ever since.
“My wife’s from Pittsburgh and my son was born here,” said Lamoureux. “This was a happy medium. This is what I call ‘home’. I’m from Central Pennsylvania. I’ve spent more time here than any other place.
“A lot of the guys I played with are still here,” Lamoureux concluded. “It’s a good place to raise a family. I learned to love a small town.”