For his first off-ice hockey job, Selkirk College alumnus Arie Postmus could not have landed a better boss to show him the ropes.
This past summer, the former Selkirk College Saints defenceman secured a position with the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels as the team’s Hockey Operations Administrator that includes a focus on player education and wellness. His boss is Brent Sutter, one of the most decorated men in professional and junior hockey, and member of the legendary family of hockey brothers who grew up on a farm in Viking, Alberta.
“I have always wanted to work for a hockey team and stay involved in the sport, it’s my true passion,” says Postmus, who suited up with the Saints between 2013 and 2016. “I have been playing hockey since I was four and it’s just a part of me. I didn’t think this opportunity would come along so soon and there is no better person to start your hockey career than with Brent.”
Born-and-raised in Fruitvale, Selkirk College alumnus Arie Postmus has parlayed a successful junior and college hockey career into an exciting job with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels where he is under the guidance of NHL legend Brent Sutter.
His role with the Rebels is dynamic and providing Postmus with a hands-on education about how an organization operates on a daily basis. Postmus looks after the logistics of road trips like hotels, meals, ice times and schedules, along with helping the coaching staff with analysis during games. The 27-year-old is also charged with working with younger players to ensure their education and life outside the rink is on track for success.
His duties with the team are under the guidance of Sutter, the fourth of the famous family of six to play in the NHL and the most successful of his clan. Brent Sutter won three Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders and was a member of three Canada Cup championship teams during a feisty professional playing career lasted between 1980 and 1998.
After retiring from the NHL, Sutter purchased the Red Deer Rebels in 1999 and has been the owner/president ever since. Other than a five-year break to coach in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames between 2007 and 2012, Sutter has also been the Rebels head coach. In that time he has brought the central Alberta city a Memorial Cup in 2001 and also coached Canada’s World Junior Team to a pair of gold medals in 2005 and 2006.
“It’s awesome, they preach professionalism right off the start,” Postmus says of the organization that also includes Brent’s son Merrick and his nephew Shaun. “Brent has put me in, has shown me the ropes and introduced me to some pretty well known people in the hockey community. I’m just trying to soak it all in and learn every day. I really cherish this opportunity and it is an important start in the hockey world.”
Raised in Culture of Excellence
Postmus is no stranger to organizations that strive for excellence in a family-like setting. He grew up in Fruitvale and after midget started playing for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Beaver Valley Nitehawks. One of the most storied Junior B teams in Western Canada, Postmus was part of a juggernaut squad that won the league title in 2012 under the guidance of head coach Terry Jones.
“That was a pretty special team,” Postmus says about his hometown club. “Terry Jones is the greatest coach I ever had, hands-down. He preaches on-ice performance, but he wants to develop good people. I feel like a lot of what shaped my personality and who I am today is growing up in hockey schools with him as a young kid and then getting a chance to play for Beaver Valley. It was unbelievable. I owe a lot of my success and where I am today to Terry, he helped me grow as a person. He puts people in positions to succeed.”
Postmus played on the Saints with several of of his former Beaver Valley Nitehawks teammates, including Ryan Edwards (left) who was a key component of the team's offence during the championship run.
From junior, Postmus joined the Selkirk College Saints in the 2013-2014 season where he fit into a line-up fresh off its first British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title. A key member of the Saints’ blueline, Postmus helped the team to three more championships as part of an incredible four-in-a-row run of provincial titles between 2013 and 2016.
“I have those three rings in my room and everyday I see them and think ‘wow.’ What we accomplished during those years was pretty special,” Postmus says. “Both [former Saints coaches] Jeff Dubois and Alex Evin did such a great job of recruiting guys that brought excellence not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.”
The Importance of Focusing on Education
It was at Selkirk College that Postmus began to hit his educational stride. A student in the Business Administration Program, Postmus admits that heading back to class after taking three years off after high school graduation was difficult.
“I struggled my first year and the coaches sat me down to say I better pick it up,” he says. “That first year transition is tough, especially if you play junior and don’t go to school during that time. When you gel with your teammates at a small college, there is always a guy willing to help out and the support provided by the college staff is incredible.”
Joined by Selkirk College President and Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, Postmus celebrates with the BCIHL trophy after the Saints fourth straight title.
During his Selkirk College experience, Postmus says he learned lessons both in the classroom and in the community that have helped him in his current role.
“I’m grateful to [Selkirk College Athletics Coordinator] Kim Verigin, Jeff Dubois and Alex Evin who took me in right away and put me in a leadership role,” Postmus says. “Through that I was able to have some experiences that I might have not gotten as a young guy. I really cherish the time I spent at Selkirk College, I wouldn’t be here today if not for that time.”
Learning from a Master in the Hockey World
After graduating from the Business Administration Program at Selkirk College, Postmus transferred to Red Deer College where he played two seasons for the school’s hockey team while working on completing his Business Degree. This past summer while working a summer job cutting grass in Blackfalds, Alberta, Postmus received a call from his Red Deer coach to let him know that he recommended him for a job that was available with the Rebels. A couple days later, he was in Brent Sutter’s office.
“I was a little nervous, but it wasn’t really an interview,” Postmus says of that first meeting. “We just talked for two hours and he made me feel comfortable right off the start. They were looking for a guy who was fresh out of playing and I have an HR background in school, both were key in getting hired for this position.”
Postmus is currently under the tutelage of NHL legend Brent Sutter who has helped guide the Red Deer Rebels over the last two decades. (photo courtesy Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Since being hired, Postmus has enjoyed being immersed the operations side of the hockey world. Putting the final wraps on his degree and working full-time, when it comes to talking to the players about education, the young athletes have an individual who is relatable.
“I don’t necessarily talk hockey with them, we just chat about life,” Postmus says about his role with helping players with their education and mental well-being. “We talk about how they are doing with their billets, how they are doing in school, I just try to make it as comfortable as possible. These athletes are very focused and are going full speed all the time, it’s good to just take a break and chat a little. We preach good grades here and about how they need to be accountable. I’m here to help them succeed.”