Greg Rallo – Leading by Example

Author: Darryl Dionne, PHPA Director of Communications and Business Development
Date: Feb 7, 2014

Greg Rallo has embraced leadership positions throughout his hockey career.  Not only is he team Captain of the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, but last summer was elected by his fellow Player Representatives to serve on the PHPA player Executive Committee, providing direction and input to help guide the Association on behalf of the entire Membership base. 

“I take the role very serious,” explained Rallo.  “It was an honor to be elected.  It’s been a busy year balancing a number of on and off ice responsibilities, but has been a rewarding experience and I look forward to the PHPA Annual Meeting this summer where I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

Rallo has been fortunate to experience the leadership role at different levels of the game, and under the tutelage of a number of great mentors, beginning at Ferris State University where he majored in Marketing. 

“I had a great experience at Ferris State.  We did really well my freshman year where we competed in the Super Six Championship Tournament, which was an awesome experience.  I played on some real close knit teams with some fantastic coaches like Bob Daniels who promoted academics as well as hard work on the ice.” 

After his four-year College career came to an end in 2005-06, a number of ECHL teams began inquiring about his services for the balance of the season.  “I ended up choosing Idaho.  I was really impressed with what (Head Coach) Derek Laxdal had to say and I really clicked with him as my coach.  I saw some good playing time right away and it ended up being a nice transition to the pro game.” 

The following season proved to be a memorable one for Rallo, who achieved his goal of playing at the next level.  “Derek Laxdal pushed for me to receive a call-up to the Iowa Stars of the AHL where I ended up playing 28 games.”  Rallo returned to Idaho later that season where the team went on to win the ECHL Kelly Cup Championship. 

After brief stints with Albany and Rockford, Rallo signed with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.  “I learned a lot playing for a great coach in Scott Arniel who taught me what it takes to play in the AHL day-in and day-out.  However it was also a difficult time being a 28-year old and not seeing much ice time.  I just wanted to play on a regular basis.”

With his future in the AHL somewhat uncertain, Rallo contacted his former Coach in Idaho who offered him a spot on the team.  Upon signing with the Steelheads, he was invited to the Texas Stars training camp, Idaho’s AHL affiliate, and impressed Texas Coach Glen Gulutzan who had coached against Rallo while with the Las Vegas Wranglers.  “The Stars happened to suffer some injuries at the start of the year which gave me the opportunity to stay with the team for a while.  Shortly thereafter I signed a contract with the Texas Stars. Glen (Gulutzan) gave me an opportunity on the power play, penalty kill, and I played a lot with Travis Morin which lead to two productive seasons in Texas.” 

After finding success at the AHL level, Rallo set his eyes towards the NHL.  The following season, he signed with the Florida Panthers, whose AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, are interstate rivals of the Texas Stars.  He was summoned into the coach’s office one day where he received the news that he was being called up to Florida for his first NHL game.  “It’s not every day where a 30-year old gets called up to play his first NHL game.  I felt like a kid again.” 

Rallo saw action in one game for the Panthers that season but savored the taste which fueled his desire to get back.  “It was motivation for training even harder throughout the summer.  When I got called back up to Florida the following season I gradually played more minutes and was given more responsibility.  It was an amazing experience, and something very special that I’ll never forget.  My goal is to get back up there again.”

This season, the Rampage are making a strong playoff push after facing some adversity earlier in the year, including a coaching change.  “We’ve battled through.  The guys on our team are fantastic; they keep pushing on and ultimately we’re aiming to secure a playoff spot.” 

Rallo’s calming influence on his Rampage teammates certainly played a role in the transition.  “I try to lead by example.  I’m not an overly vocal guy in the dressing room but I use my experience to help the younger guys and really try to stay positive.  The ups and downs will come in everyone’s career as I’ve experienced.  I just try to help guys maintain a positive outlook.”

In his two seasons since joining the Rampage, Rallo has established himself as a team leader and fan favorite, and hopes that younger players take note.  “On and off ice, I try to do the little things.  I never turn down an autograph.  I give kids high five’s when we come off the ice.  I make sure to toss some pucks over the glass to kids.  Anything to make a young fan’s day.  I still remember the hockey players who did that for me when I was a young kid.  You never forget that stuff.  It’s all about taking those extra steps.  It’s the little things that go a long way.”

Rallo, along with his wife have also been kept busy with a number of off-ice responsibilities including raising a young family.  “As a player gets older, they typically have more questions and want to learn more about the insurance side of the sport, health benefits information, and other issues which impact players and their families.  I try to help my teammates understand those aspects as best I can, while my wife helps the wives and girlfriends with off-ice information.  I just thought it was the right thing to do to take on the leadership role and get involved with the PHPA as a Player Representative.”

As the Rampage make a strong push towards the playoffs in the midst of a long road trip, Rallo attributes his hockey success as well as the flexibility to help lead his teammates to the support from his family.  “Family plays such a big role in my success.  It’s tough being away from home at times, but the support system I have in place with my wife and family helps get me through, and I really appreciate everything they do for me.”

  Share   Tweet

Strategic Partners