Jon Gustafson, vice president of Sharks Ice, grew up loving hockey and has been able to make his passion his profession. He played hockey in college and professionally. For nearly two decades now, he has worked behind the scenes at Sharks Ice. Recently, Gustafson sat down with and talked about Sharks Ice, training ground for the Sharks, home of the San Jose State University hockey team and a skating rink for the community.

Name: Jon Gustafson

Occupation: Vice President Sharks Ice LLC, Sharks Minor Holdings LLC

How long have you lived/worked in San Jose/Silicon Valley and what made you stay and pursue your career?

I have lived here for about 21 years and worked for the Sharks for 19. I moved here for the job. I played first, then I managed. I was a professional hockey player, and one summer a new league started called Roller Hockey International. It was made up of minor league professional hockey players that played during summer. I was drafted, and I ended up coming to San Jose to play. I played for two years and I was approached to operate a sports entity—the San Jose Rhinos. This was in 1996.

How was the transition from playing to managing?

Well, the writing was on the wall. I was getting up in age and I had my business degree. I thought it was time to start my real life outside of playing, and it was a great opportunity for me to jump in.

What do you like most about San Jose/Silicon Valley?

I’m originally from Northern Canada, so certainly the weather is awesome. The Valley has so many smart people, and there are so many great things to do. The Bay Area is like no other place—you can go to the ocean, mountains or wine country; there are so many amazing things to do and technically you don’t have to leave the Bay Area to do something on weekly basis.

If you could change one thing about San Jose/Silicon Valley, what would it be?  

The traffic—because time is so important nowadays, and with so many great things to do, it sucks to be stuck in traffic. I’d also change the cost. I think it’s becoming very expensive. I am fortunate, but it’s certainly expensive, and it’s tough on folks.

What San Jose/Silicon Valley event do you most look forward to every year?

I’m in the hockey business, and the two things I love are the start of the season and the playoffs.

What are some of the best events at Sharks Ice?

Sharks Ice is the city’s gem—one of busiest recreation facilities in the country. This spring we have tournaments from March 31 to April 4. The best 16- to 18- year-old boys in the country will be here to compete. These are the future stars of the U.S. hockey league and Olympics. We have amazing figure skating events. We have two of the top 10 U.S. women figure skaters. I also look forward to the holiday season because skating and the holidays are synonymous, and we get big numbers of people who come skate here. It’s fun to see that many people here around the holidays.

Who is the most interesting person you know in San Jose/Silicon Valley?

There’s so many. Our former owner, Kevin Compton, or Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and one of our customers. Both of those guys are guys who you learn something new from every time you sit in the room with them.

What’s the best part of working at Sharks Ice?

I grew up playing hockey, and I get opportunity to be in a business for something I absolutely love. I got a scholarship for hockey and was able to play for school. I played professionally, which paid the bills, and it’s so much part of my life that it’s been great to transfer the things I’ve learned and be part of our community.

Do you have a favorite thing about working at Sharks Ice?

Every day is something new. This place has so much life and energy. It’s exciting to come to work every day at a place where people enjoy coming. How can you not enjoy working at a place where people are happy and excited and passionate?