Skip to Main Content

The Franchise

The Business of Building Winning Teams

About The Book

Draft Day meets Burke’s Law in this incisive and entertaining behind-the-scenes look at hockey’s highest ranks.

Why do some franchises consistently win, while others may never get to see their players’ names etched on the Cup? Why do some teams draft poorly and others draft all-star teams? Why do some teams just seem to know how to win?

In The Franchise, The Athletic’s Craig Custance delves into the stories about thepeople who make the biggest decisions in hockey. For more than three years, Custance travelled far and wide to connect with the inner circle of hockey, from the owner’s suite of the Carolina Hurricanes to a private championship ring ceremony with the Vegas Golden Knights to a country club for a breakdown of the Pittsburgh Penguins.He had frank conversations with new Leafs’ GM Brad Treliving and former Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas, and discussed the revolution in women's hockey with three-time Olympic medal winner and Devils’ executive Meghan Duggan.

For fans of any stripe, there are stories behind memorable trades and the biggest free agent signings, and insights into how some of the most successful teams of the last two decades were built. There are never-been-told details about trade demands, a prominent hire that one general manager regretted immediately, and how one general manager risked his life to sign a player he thought could change the course of his NHL team.

The Franchise will change the way you look at hockey. Custance shows that it all starts at the top, not on the ice. The players win, but it’s the people up in the box who break down every aspect of their teams, execute the hard decisions, and make the magic happen. This is essential reading for every hockey fan who wants to get beyond the x’s and o’s in an absorbing testament to why teams win.

About The Author


For over a decade, Craig Custance has been a national hockey writer at ESPN and The Athletic, developing a reputation as a trusted source for thoughtful and comprehensive coverage of the NHL. He’s the author of the book Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches, named as one of the greatest hockey books of all time by Book Authority, and was the longtime host of the in-depth interview podcast The Full 60. He’s currently the Head of Creative Development at The Athletic, a New York Times company. He lives in Michigan.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 15, 2024)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668035450

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

The Franchise takes you deep inside the minds and organizations of the visionary leaders shaping the NHL today. Thanks to Craig Custance’s strong connections with these key figures, they open up and share little-known stories and anecdotes that reveal how elite leaders in the NHL operate and make decisions. You get an inside look at the thought processes and philosophies of the top people in the sport. But this book goes beyond just hockey. The lessons Craig reveals apply to anyone interested in leadership. From management and culture-building to talent evaluation, the insights are invaluable for any leader. Craig’s ability to uncover compelling human stories and relatable details makes these powerful leaders come to life, offering wisdom that’s easy to understand and apply. If you want to learn from the best and apply their wisdom to your own life and business, this book is a must-read.”
MIKE VALLEY, entrepreneur and former NHL goalie coach

“It’s one thing, and not an insignificant one, just to get access to the inner sanctums of Stanley Cup–winning executives. It’s quite another to get them to openly share their insights and experiences in how they have built and led their NHL franchises. Craig Custance has done an exceptional job of both in The Franchise.”
BOB McKENZIE, TSN Hockey Insider

“I have spent the past 45-plus years in pro sports and the value of leadership is never overstated – it is one of the prominent factors separating contenders from pretenders. Craig Custance does masterful work in portraying the settings, circumstances, and thought processes of some of the top leaders of the NHL, leadership styles that are transferable to many walks of life. The access is enlightening and provides the reader with not only how leaders think, but the trust they have in the author to tell their story.”
— NED COLLETTI, sports executive in MLB and the NHL and former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Praise for Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey's Greatest Coaches

“Should a hockey fan buy this book? Yes. Undoubtedly.”
Raw Charge

“To no one’s surprise, Custance goes out of his way to interview and talk with various friends, former players and peers of each coach, in an effort to give a holistic view of who they are, not just as head coaches but as people.”
Stanley Cup of Chowder

“The idea of sitting down with all these respected coaches and watching great games together is an unbelievable concept. The execution from Craig Custance is top notch. Hockey fans will love this book but if you're coaching sports at any level, it should be required reading.”
Mike Valley, NHL goalie coach

“NHL coaches know so much and usually say so little, but Craig Custance cracks them open and finds all kinds of insight, humor and honesty through the biggest moments of their careers. You get to relive the games, and see them through fresh eyes. I love this book.”
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star

“These are the great games that I remember watching and covering. You're always thinking, 'Why did the coach do that? What was he looking for there?' Now we know the answers.”
Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

“It takes a unique person to get access to the brightest minds in hockey; it takes someone special to get them to open up; and it takes an extraordinary individual to bring all of that together in what will be this season's must-read hockey book. Craig Custance is that guy.”
BOB McKENZIE, author of Everyday Hockey Hero's Vol. 1

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images