TAMPA, Fla. – Greg Wolf’s bucket list included taking in a game at Fenway Park. It was a bucket he filled, though perhaps not in a manner he might have expected.
Wolf wasn’t watching baseballs soar into and over the Green Monster while enjoying peanuts and Cracker Jack on a summer evening in Boston. Rather, he served as a host for the NHL’s Winter Classic between the Bruins and Penguins on January 2, a 2-1 win for the home team.
“It has a mystique to it, and it is hard to put into words what I felt walking to the ballpark,” he said of the historic venue, home to the Red Sox since 1912. “I was kind of in awe knowing I was about to walk into a stadium that is more than 100 years old. I could literally feel the history.”
Wolf feels good about the opportunity to host a trifecta of NHL events that began with the Winter Classic and continues with all-star game festivities in Sunrise on February 3-4, and concludes with a Stadium Series matchup between the host Hurricanes and Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh on February 18.
“I have always been a fan of Greg’s since I have been with the NHL,” said John Bochiaro, the league’s vice president of game presentation, who has been with the NHL for the past decade. “The energy he brings, the excitement he brings, he does a great job in his role (in Tampa) and it is great to see him do that with the NHL.”
Sunrise will mark the third time in the league’s last four all-star weekends — no all-star game was played during the virus-shortened 2020-21 season – that Wolf will have a presence. The first was when the Lightning hosted the event during the 2017-18 season. That was a landmark weekend for Wolf in the sense that his NHL profile has since done nothing but grow.
Wolf traveled with the Lightning to serve as a host in Stockholm for the team’s Global Series games against the Sabres early in the 2019-20 season. The Bolts’ recent success has also been key to bolstering his resume. While the 2020 Stanley Cup final against the Stars was played in the Edmonton bubble, Amalie Arena was the place to be during the 2021 and 2022 Cup finals against, respectively, the Canadiens and Avalanche. In between, Wolf was a host of all-star activities in Vegas.
“Being (a host) for as long as I have, you see the other events the league does, but I never pursued them,” said 47-year-old product of USF, who has been a presence at Amalie Arena and elsewhere throughout the Tampa Bay area sporting landscape for more than 15 years. “How does somebody become the host of an all-star game? I had no idea. When the all-star game came here, I knew that I wanted to do more such events.”
Bochiaro knew that Wolf would be a valuable member of the league’s game presentation team at its signature events.
“Hyping the crowd before the team takes the ice, getting the fans ready for an important part of the game,” he said of the things Wolf does so well. “It is those characteristics that we are looking for with our hosts, to bring that energy and help us build that atmosphere in all of our events when it comes to the game presentation.”
Wolf has had to prepare for many events these days. His calendar over the holidays was particularly full as he served as host at Raymond James Stadium for the Gasparilla Bowl between Wake Forest and Missouri on December 23. He also took in the sun and sand while serving as host of the Reliaquest Bowl Beach Day at Clearwater Beach, a day of fun competitions between Mississippi State and Illinois players and bands.
“It was a busy end to 2022, and it has been a busy start to 2023, but that is what I signed up for,” he said.
To underscore that point, after returning to Tampa from Boston on January 3, Wolf had to hustle to the Yuengling Center to work the USF’s women’s basketball game against Temple. Somehow, he finds time to shoehorn his responsibilities as a co-founder of Street Laced Marketing and Promotions, which, among other things, books deejays for various events and handles entertainment at Bucs Beach outside Raymond James Stadium.
Major NHL events, though, will continue to drive Wolf’s schedule over the course of the next several weeks.
“It’s pretty remarkable, to say the least, to be doing these events for the NHL,” he said. “It’s awesome.”