It’s not every day that one’s contributions are recognized by hockey legends such as Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Wayne Gretzky but for long-time Oilers Equipment Manager Barrie Stafford these were just a few names that took time this past weekend to celebrate his outstanding career. The big names were out in force as Barrie was inducted into the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society (PHATS) and the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers’ (SPHEM) Wall of Honour, which is located in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
“It was a tremendous honour, not only for me personally but for my entire family. It was a testament, as well, to the Oilers organization; they’re like our second family,” said Stafford. “It’s especially significant because I was recognized by my peers.”
Legendary Oilers blueliner and long-time friend Paul Coffey kicked off the celebration and introduced the guest of honour. Stafford then took to the mic, reminiscing on his last 30 years with the Oilers and thanking all those who have made a big impact on his career. While not all of his colleagues and friends could be there in person, a few special letters were read aloud.
“They read some kind words from Kevin Lowe, Glen Sather, our former boss, from Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. It was pretty cool,” said Stafford. “What made it very special was I had my wife there with me as well as Ken Lowe, [Lyle] Sparky Kulchisky, both of whom I’ve worked with for almost 30 years, as well as John Muckler who was my first coach when I started in professional hockey when the Oilers hired me in 1981,” said Stafford.
Since joining the Oilers training staff over 30 years ago, a few of Stafford’s accomplishments include celebrating five Stanley Cup Championships and working his 2,000th game at the end of the 2007-08 season. After 28 years as the Oilers Head Equipment Manager, Stafford transitioned to Director of Special Projects in April 2010 where he continues to play a strong and vital role within the organization.
On behalf of the Edmonton Oilers organization, congratulations Barrie Stafford!