Ernie Hartlieb impresses people wherever he goes.
A few years ago, the longtime Everblades standout and a few of his new teammates at Fifth Third Securities associates went to a convention in Nashville.
Hartlieb, a financial adviser for the firm, was walking back to his hotel with his peers when a few overly friendly, possibly inebriated young women approached them.
Robert Corsarie, regional investment manager for the firm and the man who took a chance on hiring Hartlieb three years ago, remembers the scene well.
“These three girls stop us and were saying things like ‘Hey guys in suits, what are you doing?’” Corsarie recalls. “Then one of them looks at Ernie and says ‘Oh my God, you’re Ernie Hartlieb! I have your bobblehead. One of our top performing advisers turned to Ernie and said ‘Who the (bleep) are you?’”
It’s not surprising Hartlieb gets noticed, as he has an easygoing demeanor and sunny outlook on life that is downright infectious to the people who know him.
Hartlieb played from 2004-2010 for the Everblades, coming out of retirement each of the last three seasons when the organization faced a roster crunch. The franchise’s all-time leader in games played and power-play goals, he ranks in the top 10 of every major offensive category in team history.
He also may be the most recognizable Everblade. The Michigan native always has made it a point to interact with fans and participate in charity events throughout the community.
One such fan interaction landed him his current job. In 2009, Corsarie’s 6-year-old daughter Kaitlyn was perhaps the biggest Ernie Hartlieb fan around. She desperately wanted a signed Hartlieb jersey at one of the team’s many charity auctions.
“I wanted to play the part of the doting father and get her that jersey,” he said. “The first bid was $2,000 and needless to say, my daughter wasn’t going to get the jersey. I was playing hockey in a men’s league and one of the guys knew Ernie and told him about my daughter and the jersey. Ernie didn’t know me or my daughter, but he made sure she got an autographed stick. I was immediately impressed by his generosity.”
Corsarie eventually met Hartlieb and struck up a conversation, asking him what he wanted to do after his career in hockey was over. A business and finance major in college, Hartlieb had already started his own company — Hartlieb Distributors — selling frozen drink mixes to bars and restaurants — on the side. Impressed by Hartlieb’s intelligence and people skills, Corsarie invited Hartlieb to lunch. The lunch meeting went well, and Corsarie offered Hartlieb a job as a financial adviser, a position he has now held for three years.
“People thought I was crazy bringing him in, but he had something special,” Corsarie said. “That last year he was playing for the Everblades, he would study for his certification on road trips. Among the financial advisers with similar tenure, he’s now the No. 2 adviser in the firm (out of more than 100). He’s gotten plenty of recognition throughout the company. He’s taken on leadership projects and has really become a go-to adviser. There are a lot of similarities to the work he did as a hockey player and what he’s doing now. We’re in a results oriented business, just like in sports. You’ve got to be held accountable and get results and there’s an awful lot of teamwork. He’s really done incredible work here.”
Hartlieb still remains connected to the Everblades, doing color commentary for radio broadcasts and occasionally still suiting up for the team during roster crunches commonplace in the ECHL. His No. 9 jersey was retired last fall, joining Tom Buckley and Reggie Berg as the only players to have their jerseys retired by the team.
“When I go back and play, I tell all the younger players how I got my job (at Fifth Third),” Hartlieb said. “No matter where I’ve been, I try to do things in the community. As athletes, we’re in a position to help make a difference, and it’s great to put smiles on people’s faces. But I also tell the boys you never know who you’re going to meet or what types of opportunities there are.”
Hartlieb also has seen plenty of personal success while in Southwest Florida. He met his wife, Miranda, five years ago through mutual friends. The couple married last year and had their first child — son Hunter — in January.
“Miranda’s grandparents are Everblades season-ticket holders, so they knew who I was before she even introduced me to them,” Hartlieb said. “My wife loves hockey. When I would do the color commentary for radio, she’d bring her girlfriends and enjoy the game.”
Don’t be surprised to see Hunter play for the Junior Everblades one day.
“He’s already out in the living room watching ‘NHL Tonight’ with me at 3 months old,” he joked. “Got to get him started early.”
The original Nashville tale about Hartlieb didn’t end with the females in the street.
During that same conference, Mike Eruzione, the man who scored the winning goal against the Soviet Union during the famous “Miracle On Ice” game in the 1980 Winter Olympics, made an appearance.
“One of our guys approached Mike and asked him if he got noticed anywhere in Nashville,” Corsarie said. “He said ‘No’ and told him ‘Well, our guy did.’ Here’s Mike Eruzione, the man who was involved in probably the biggest sports story of the 20th century, and he’s walking around anonymously. Yet, Ernie is the one who draws the attention.”