Have you ever had a friend whose line of work you thought was really cool? A job you found interesting because of the things the person got to do, or because of the environment in which they worked? I’ve always been interested in the occupations of my friends and relatives; so much so that I’ve visited many of them on the job, toured their places of employment, or gone on official “ride-alongs” or “Walk-A-Miles” with them.
Having only been an airline crewmember my entire professional life, it’s interesting to me to see how others make their living. Among my friends are people who earn their paychecks as physicians, air-conditioning specialists, internet-based sales professionals, truck drivers, attorneys, factory workers, police officers, HR directors, and many other professions too numerous to list. Each of them fills their workdays in different ways, and that particular facet of their lives has always fascinated me.
I thought it might make for some interesting reading to profile the jobs of some of the people inside the Panthers organization with whom I’ve become friends over the last several seasons. They are occupations we don’t get to see everyday, but that are interesting and often behind-the-scenes.
|Matt Redmond |
In the first profile of this series, I’m going to tell you about Matt Redmond and one of the jobs he does within the organization. While I was visiting the rink during rookie camp several months ago, Matt and I were chatting about a few hockey-related items when the subject turned to his job. In addition to running the pro shop at Incredible ICE
in Coral Springs, Matt is also the Manager of the Florida Panthers’ Game-Used Equipment Sales. Not only does he head the program, he is solely responsible for its inception.
A while back, before the development of the department, Matt had a friend who was a big jersey collector ask him how to go about purchasing a particular player’s jersey. Since he didn’t know the answer, Matt did a little research and found out that almost all of the game-used jerseys were sent to a company that would then sell them to various investors and other interested parties. The fact that fans never had an opportunity to buy their favorite player’s discarded equipment got Matt to thinking of a better, more effective way to allow them access.
With the help of a couple of people within the organization, Matt developed the Authentic Game-Used Equipment Sales Program.
|Redmond At Work In His Office |
Every piece of Florida Panthers game-used equipment that is sold or donated to charity passes through Matt’s hands. As a hockey fan, imagine having the opportunity to handle jerseys, uniforms, skates, gloves, sticks, pads, helmets and other NHL equipment on a daily basis.
One visit with him on the job and any Panthers fan would be envious. Matt’s office, near the rear of Incredible ICE, is a veritable treasure trove of Panthers memorabilia. Nearly every jersey from the last couple of years (with the exception of the ones from the Shirts Off Their Backs promotions, and a few others) is hanging neatly on racks around the room.
In one large corner is an immense array of signed hockey sticks; each one cataloged, signed, and ready for sale. On one wall is a set of shelves with dozens of autographed helmets. On another wall is a shelving unit full of autographed hockey gloves. Standing there looking around, I was amazed at just how much work had obviously gone into organizing all of this equipment. Not to mention the amount of time and energy needed to ensure the authenticity of every piece. After discussing the process with Matt, I started to get a feeling for how seriously he takes the responsibility of confirming that each piece of equipment coming through his office is, in fact, authentic.
|Certificate Of Authenticity |
The chain of possession is pretty simple, and it goes one of two ways: Either Matt directly procures the item from the player, or he receives it in his office from Chris Scoppetto (aka “Frosty”), Chris Moody, or Jason McDonald, the equipment managers of the Florida Panthers. Once a piece of equipment is brought into Matt’s office, he catalogs it and places a tamper-proof hologram decal that he designed on it.
This decal contains a serial number that matches the serial number of a Certificate of Authenticity that Matt also designed. Those serial numbers match a spreadsheet in the Panthers’ database. In order to insure the integrity of the program, all of the stickers and certificates are kept in a safe, and the only person with access to the safe is Matt. The Certificate of Authenticity is presented to the purchaser of the equipment, verifying that the piece is genuine.
The jerseys include an additional measure of security in hopes of preventing non-authentic pieces from being sold as genuine: Matt designed a patch that is sewn into the hem of each jersey by a company called Cutting Edge Sports. This patch contains a serial number that matches the aforementioned Certificate of Authenticity and database.
As you can see, Matt has taken a lot of precautions to protect the fans who purchase this equipment. Even a cursory glance at some of the stuff on eBay will give you an appreciation for the efforts Matt takes to guarantee that you’re buying the real deal. Part of what drives Matt’s eye for detail is his desire to prevent people from shelling out their hard-earned money for authentic equipment that turns out not to be authentic at all. Matt gave me one such example of that type of merchandise; he told me of a guy who bought an Igor Larionov
jersey that was being sold as game-used authentic. However, the jersey was made by Pro-Player, who stopped making jerseys for the NHL in 1999. Larionov, who only played a handful of games for the Panthers in the 2000-2001 season, obviously could not have worn a Pro-Player jersey while playing for Florida, therefore the jersey was a fake.
|Matt Redmond in the Panthers lockerroom |
“The cool part about my job is that I can make a lot of people happy,” Matt says.
And make a lot of people happy, he does. One particular group of people who benefit from Matt’s generosity is the Florida Panthers Booster Club
. At their watch parties and other functions they often raffle off equipment from the Panthers as a means to generate funds for the operation of the club and for charitable contributions. Each and every item comes from Matt’s office, and he understands what it means to these uber-fans to be able to purchase or win game-used equipment from their favorite team.
“Who better for me to support than the Booster Club?” Matt asks, “They’re at every game, practice, and watch party. And working directly for the team, I can acquire pretty much anything the fans want to purchase.”
The number of items available varies from player to player. For example, former Florida Panther Karlis Skrastins used a different stick for every game and every practice (+/- 150 sticks per year), whereas David Booth pretty much uses each of his sticks until they break (+/- 30 sticks per year). The game-used jerseys are divided into two sets. Set one is worn by the team from October to January, and set two is worn from January until the end of the season. Each set contains one home and one away jersey from each player for a total of four jerseys per player, per year. This season however, there was an extra set of jerseys that was used in Helsinki, Finland. They include the special Premiere Games patch on the right upper chest of the jersey. Three jerseys from each player (and both of the Helsinki jerseys) go to Game-Used Equipment Sales. The remaining ones are auctioned off at the conclusion of the Panthers’ final home game and presented to the highest bidders by the players in a ceremony on the ice.
As I looked around Matt’s office at the plethora of game-used jerseys, I found the condition of some of them to be very interesting. Handling a Tomas Vokoun road jersey, for example, I noticed the marks left by dozens of pucks. And the condition of one of Gregory Campbell’s jerseys left me with a deeper appreciation of the fact that professional hockey is indeed a contact sport. Soupy’s jersey had multiple repairs that were necessary after it had been torn during games. If you’re looking for authentic, it doesn’t get any more so than that!
All proceeds from the sale of the game-used equipment go back into the operations budget of the organization. Returning funds to the team’s bottom line was an attractive selling point when Matt was initially pitching the program, and because of that aspect, other teams from around the NHL are seeking information about it from Matt.Hockey Came Naturally
Matt’s family history is very interesting, and that history provides the basis for his love of hockey, the NHL, and game-used equipment. Matt is the middle son of Dick Redmond
who, after being drafted in the first round by the Minnesota North Stars, played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, among others. Matt is also the nephew of Mickey Redmond
(Dick’s brother), who played 9 years in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. Mickey is currently the color analyst for the Red Wings’ Fox Sports Network affiliate. Matt’s Grandfather Eddie Redmond (Dick and Mickey’s father) won the ’57-’58 World Championship in Oslo, Norway with the Whitby Dunlops
, and he was on the Executive Board of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes
for over twenty years. Matt’s older brother Shawn played four years in Juniors, four years in the minors, and he is currently the Vice President of Marketing for TSN in Canada. Shawn is responsible for consumer advertising, on-air promotions, communications, research and special events, helping TSN maintain its brand strength and reinforce its position as Canada's Sports Leader. Matt’s younger brother Patrick builds custom homes around Ontario, and his mother, Debbie, was a gymnastics teacher who now works for a newspaper in Toronto.
That type of pedigree is reserved for very few families in hockey, and Matt realizes how fortunate he was to grow up in an environment that allowed him to experience the sport from inside the highest echelons. He says his parents knew of the unrealistic and unfair expectations their sons would endure because of their lineage.
“My father knew the pressure my brothers and I would be under being the son of an NHLer and growing up in Toronto, and he never added to it by pushing us too hard. He always wanted us to succeed, and tried to give us the tools to do so, but never forced us to practice. I think a lot of people see the way Earl Woods raised Tiger and they think that’s the best way get their kids to the NHL. I would never tell anyone how to raise their kids, but for every Tiger there has got to be thousands of kids who end up hating their dad for treating them that way. I’m glad my dad never took that chance. I was fortunate enough to have two unbelievable parents who let me play, and even encouraged me to play different sports. In high school I was a member of the golf, baseball, tennis, cross country, and wrestling teams. If anything my Dad encouraged me to play golf more than anything. He’s 60 and still kicks my butt [on the golf course]!”“Goal scorers drive Cadillacs”
Being the son and nephew of professional hockey players, Matt had a childhood that most hockey fans could only dream of. When they would play street hockey at the Redmond home in Boston, it was not unusual to have NHL players such as Mike Milbury, Wayne Cashman, Rick Middleton, Rogatien Vachon, Stan Jonathan and others out there banging the puck around with them. It was such a common thing that Matt didn’t really think it was that big of a deal. Imagine being a little kid and having the opportunity to hang out with your dad’s friends, and oh by the way, those friends just happen to play in the National Hockey League…
Another interesting story Matt told me was about when he was a kid playing knee hockey with his brother at his family’s farm in Peterborough, Ontario. After some intense games, the winner would get to carry Uncle Mickey’s replica Stanley Cup around for the day. He even remembers eating Froot Loops out of the top of it. Considering that many players who win the Stanley Cup keep their replica in a case and won’t let anyone breathe on it much less touch it, Matt was pretty fortunate to be able to carry one around and enjoy his breakfast from it after beating his brother in a game of knee hockey… Matt conveys his apologies to Uncle Mickey if he didn’t know that his nephews had eaten cereal from his Stanley Cup.
Matt’s dad, a defenseman, drove an Army jeep, and Matt’s uncle Mickey, a 50-goal scorer, drove a Cadillac. A piece of advice Dick gave Matt when he was kid was, “Just remember, goal scorers drive Cadillacs.”
That bit of wisdom stuck with Matt as he set out to be a professional hockey player. Following his father’s counsel, Matt learned to drive to the net, and he gravitated toward right wing. He played two seasons with the Peterborough Petes in the Tier II Ontario Provincial Junior A League, and one season for the Thornhill Islanders of the Metro Toronto Junior A League, a season in which he played with former Florida Panther Dominic Moore. Matt laughingly tells the story of how Dominic assisted on his first goal with Thornhill: “It was a real goal-scorer’s beauty! I was hanging out in front of the net when Dominic let go of a screaming slap shot that whizzed past me and slammed into the goalie. Before I knew what had happened, the puck had rebounded directly toward me and bounced off the center of my chest and right into the top corner of the net! It was a goal on the scoresheet, and that’s all that matters! I told Moorsy I was aiming for that corner”
The last season of his professional career was in 1998-1999 with a Florida Panthers affiliate, the Miami Matadors
of the ECHL. The Matadors played one season in Miami, before moving to Cincinnati to become the Cyclones
. Sadly, a rut in the ice ended Matt’s brief professional hockey career. He was skating behind the net during a game in Greenville when his skate caught the rut and he fell into the boards. He needed two surgeries and two titanium screws to repair the damage the fall caused to his left shoulder. He took the career-ending injury in stride saying, “I never really cared about not playing hockey again. What I do care about is that because of the shoulder injury, I now have to play a fade instead of a draw! I never really had high hopes of making it to the NHL. I played in the clutch-and-grab era where guys 6’5” and no skill were being drafted solely because of how big they were. I never had a problem putting a few points on the board, but at 5’8” I had a tough time shaking the big boys loose. I also don’t think most people realize just how good the players in the NHL are. Even players who dominate the Junior ranks still have a tough road ahead of them. The players in the NHL are bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than the players in any other league in the world. I never considered myself to be at that level. [Once I came to the realization that my career was over,] I took it fine. I sulked over a round of 18 at my local golf course.”
|Matt with Melissa, Ronan and Shayne |
Injured and out of hockey, Matt wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with his life. So he moved down to South Florida to work for the summer at Incredible ICE teaching and working in the pro shop. He loved it so much down here that he put down roots and has now been here for over twelve years.
With his fiancé Melissa, their son Ronan (16 months), and his stepdaughter Shayne (4 Years), Matt makes his home in Broward County, and he continues to enjoy a life in and around hockey.
“I still play hockey, but only on Xbox. I also teach a kids’ Learn To Play class, a Little Rookies class, an Adult Clinic, and some private lessons. Now if there was an NHL Xbox league I would be in it for sure! I wouldn’t be a star like Ovechkin or anything, maybe like a Cam Neeley. Just all-around solid!”
Matt grew up in and around hockey, so I assumed he would have several teams with a special place in his heart today. But his answer to that question surprised me... He is a Florida Panthers fan. Working for an organization for more than a decade has a way of creating a loyalty that can only be understood by someone who has done it.
“The only team I cheer for other than the Panthers is the USA Ryder Cup team. I actually never had a team that I followed or cheered for, until I moved down here.”
In fact, when I asked Matt what he planned to be doing in twenty years, he said, “In twenty years? Hopefully polishing a bunch of my Panthers Stanley Cup rings. I get one of those don’t I?”
If the Panthers win the Stanley Cup, I’m hoping Matt’s dedication to the organization warrants him receiving a ring to polish…
If you’re interested in purchasing game-used equipment from the Florida Panthers, or finding out more information about what’s available, There are a couple of methods to use. The first is to go to the Panthers’ website and click on the “Shop” tab. You will see a drop down box that says “Game Used Merchandise”. Click on that box and away you go. There is a wide variety of merchandise available for purchase. Click here
for the quick link. A large portion of the merchandise is autographed, but the jerseys are not. Some collectors do not want their jerseys autographed. However, if you purchase a jersey and want it signed by the player, Matt says he is able to provide that service for you.
Another method of obtaining the equipment is to go to the BankAtlantic Center on game nights and visit the game-used merchandise table just inside the entrance on the right-hand side. Just the same as online, the prices are pre-determined, and everything comes with a certificate of authenticity. Matt’s team attends all of the games with a complete inventory list of what material is available for purchase.
You can also contact Matt Redmond at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or by phone at (954) 341-9956.
Thank you to everyone who sent emails and messages on facebook after the last blog entry. I enjoyed corresponding with each of you. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, I can be reached at: VanMurph@hotmail.com
Thanks for stopping by the blog.
PS. Congratulations to Matt and Melissa. On Saturday, February 20, 2010, they were in Key West where Melissa accepted Matt’s marriage proposal! Vanessa and I sincerely hope they have a long and prosperous marriage and life together.
One last thing: Perhaps the Redmond’s NHL lineage will continue. Matt says his son Ronan is already showing the potential skills necessary to get to the show.
“Ronan’s going to be a chippy one. He two-handed me in the face with a mini-stick the other day. Would have been a 10 game suspension for sure…”