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Life After the Game: Serge Payer

Life After the Game: Serge Payer

By Sean Mitton

Former NHL'er, Serge Payer is now a Hockey Agent and Starts Guillian-Barre Syndrome Foundation

Growing up in Rockland, Ontario, a small town close to Ottawa, Serge Payer had a dream to play in the NHL one day. Like many hockey players, Payer's journey included  time in the Ontario Hockey League. During that 5 year stint with the Kitchener Rangers, Payer was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome. Today, he works as an agent and hockey advisor for elite hockey talent through his company, Unlimited Sports Management. He also created the Serge Payer Foundation.

"It was in my fourth year in Kitchener that I woke up with back pain. Ten days later, I was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome and out of hockey for a year," Payer comments. According to his website, Guillian-Barre Syndrome is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves (nerves that are not part of the brain and spinal cord). GBS is characterized by the rapid onset of weakness and, often, paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles and face. It continues to claim thousands of new victims each year, striking any person, at any age, regardless of gender or ethnic background.

After a ten-month battle with the disease and subsequent bout with mononucleosis, he returned to the Rangers before eventually making his NHL debut on November 13, 2000, against the Atlanta Thrashers. Payer played 119 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, scoring 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points.  Later he played three years of elite pro hockey in Europe (2008-11), including most recently with the Norwegian team Vålerenga of the GET-ligaen.

Towards the end of his playing career, he became closer to his agent and helped him in recruiting European kids. That took him in the direction of being an agent. "I really like the opportunity to have a positive impact on kids", Payer shares. He helps kids in evaluating future options such as the Canadian Junior or NCAA hockey. "These days, most elite hockey players have representation by age 16. I can help them in their short and long-term goals."

Making a difference seems like an important factor for Payer in life after playing hockey.

Regarding his foundation, Payer states, "It is my hope to raise general awareness of Guillian-Barre Syndrome and help people who are afflicted with this debilitating illness.  Ultimately, I'd like to do whatever I can to help fund research, new treatments and a cure for this disease."

Check out Serge Payer Fundraising events.