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Equipment Chronicles - Part III: Acquisitions and Camp

The process of preparing call-ups, acquisitions, and training camp's tireless tasks

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

For Stan Wilson, it's a big numbers game for his Coyotes, who use thousands of rolls of tape and sticks per season, not to mention players using up to three sets of gloves a period and even a few different skate blades.

Head equipment manager Wilson has been with the franchise since 1990, six years before the team relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix. He has prepared franchise teams for more than 2,000 NHL games. Come along for a three-part series chronicling the fundamental workings of the Coyotes' equipment operations:

Part I: Sticks and tape

Part II: Skates and gloves

Part III: Acquisitions and camp

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Much like the game itself, a lot of an equipment manager's work involves adapting on the fly. That can mean tending to a new player, whether it be a call-up or trade.

"If it's a call-up, we have all of the jerseys for everybody in our organization already; we carry those with us all of the time," head equipment manager Stan Wilson said. "So, if a guy gets the call, we have his jersey."

He and his staff have the benefit of the Coyotes' AHL affiliate's updated color scheme. When the Roadrunners relocated to Tucson from Springfield, MA, in 2016, they adopted the parent team's colors.

"Now, all we do is change the helmet stickers and they're ready to roll because they wear the same gear - gloves, pants, and helmets - as we do," Wilson said.

"That's a huge advantage for us and the player, because otherwise, in the past, if our AHL team was a different color, we would [need to] carry spare pants, gloves, whatever. They would have to put that on and wear new gear that they're not used to. But with Tucson being the same color [now], it's unbelievable."

Then there's the task of tending to a newly acquired player. 

"If a trade happens, then that's a different thing," Wilson said. "When [the trade] kicks in, we have to get the jerseys made. We have to get the nameplates for the stalls made. We have to find out what their equipment is: helmets, pants, gloves -- basically. We'll use FedEx; we have a same-day company. We'll ship stuff in the same day if we have to. We get it all as quick as we can." 

The acquired player brings his own under gear, of course -- shin pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads. It's the exoskeleton, the team-branded gear, that concerns Wilson and his team. 

Wilson referenced the Taylor Hall trade last December; Hall was acquired from the New Jersey Devils. 

"The second we heard of it, I'm on the phone to New Jersey with Chris [Scoppetto], the equipment guy there," Wilson said. "[Chris] used to be our truck driver. He and I go way back. He worked with us in Phoenix in the first couple years when we were here. So, I'm calling him up and he's calling me up: 'This is what we need. He's got this many sticks with him; he's got his bag; he wears a special pair of socks in his skates. So, he'll have those with him, and so on. I'll send you this stuff.'

"The moment something happens -- and even if there's a rumor we're touching base with each other, like 'Hey, I read in the news that maybe so-and-so is coming your way or whatever, what's the deal' -- so we all try to help each other out and be as prepared as we can because there is no tomorrow. Everybody wants something today, so we do our best to make it work." 

The biggest influx of new players arrive near the end of every summer, with rookie camp, quickly followed by training camp. It's one of the most demanding times of the season. 

"Any camps are the busiest time," Wilson said. "When we have 60 players, everyone gets two helmets to start the season, so everybody has to get two helmets made. You have new guys coming, players that you haven't had before, so they need gloves and pants -- everything. The first two or three days of training camp, no matter how organized you are, is busy."

It's an estimated 20,000 steps a day for Wilson and his staff.

"You're on the move constantly, back-and-forth between the dressing rooms," he said.

Though there are ebbs and flows during certain times of the year, the goal remains the same: eliminate any undue stress for the players.

Said Wilson: "Whether you're a medical trainer or an equipment staffer, strength and conditioning, the chef, whoever it is, our jobs as support staff are to get the players to be where all they have to worry about is playing the game, nothing else. 

"The skates are sharp, the gloves are good, they've got the right sticks, the right warm-up, their wrists are taped properly, they ate the right meal before -- that's our job. Our job is to make sure they have everything they need so they can perform at their best."

Wilson doesn't consider any request too odd. "There's really nothing that crazy to me. We try to get the guys whatever they feel they need. There are guys who need certain things or want certain things a certain way, but really for us, we just try to do what we can to help the guy perform at his best."

Oh, and of course, last but not least, and as any equipment manager -- pro or amateur knows -- there's the laundry. And plenty of it. 

"If you don't have the laundry going, you're in trouble," Wilson said. "There's so much. They've got workout gear; they've got on-ice gear; then you've got all of the towels. It's just steady laundry -- jerseys, socks, underwear; everything gets washed every day for every time they're on the ice."

"I always joke around, [laundry] is the brain center of the operation."

Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes // Second Photo Credit [Player Bag]: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes // Third Photo Credit [Hall Stall]: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Fourth Photo Credit [Camp Group]: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes // Fifth Photo Credit [Camp Bench]: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes // Footer Photo Credit: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes

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