By Kevin Oklobzija for Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Ask the current members of the Rochester Americans how athletic trainer Kent Weisbeck got his nickname, "Snacky," and most wouldn't have a clue.
Of course, some weren't born when the nickname originated.
The name has nothing to do with food, either.
Long before cell phones, the Amerks practiced at Lakeshore Hockey Arena in Greece. Whenever the parent Buffalo Sabres needed to reach coach John Van Boxmeer or Weisbeck, they would phone the rink.
A moment later, a page would go out over the crackly public address system, "Kent Weisbeck, snack bar. Kent Weisbeck, snack bar."
Weisbeck would then pick up the phone in the snack bar to find out what the Sabres needed. A nickname was born.
Some 25 seasons later, there are no more pages over the P.A. system. Weisbeck answers e-mails and text messages on his wireless device.
But what hasn't changed is his dedication and ability to get injured players back in the Amerks' lineup.
Today, he will be recognized for a quarter-century of unheralded work as the Amerks trainer.
Weisbeck, a 53-year-old Buffalo native, will be enshrined in the Amerks Hall of Fame along with former winger and coach Randy Cunneyworth and former defenseman/winger Jim Wiemer.
The ceremony is at 2:30 p.m. in the upper atrium of Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, followed by recognition on the ice before the Amerks play the Portland Pirates.
"He's extremely dedicated to the team and the players," said Dr. Robert Bronstein of University of Rochester Sports Medicine, who has been the team physician for more than a decade.
Not only is Weisbeck devoted to his job, he's good, Bronstein said.
"His assessments are right on," the doctor said. "It's a pleasure for me to have someone like that there. It takes a lot of the burden off me. He's helping the players get back playing but he's also making sure it's safe for them to come back."
Weisbeck was hired before the 1985-86 season. He had been an assistant trainer at the University at Buffalo but was being paid only a $2,000 stipend. Thus, he needed another job, so he worked at a gym in Amherst.
By chance, he overheard a conversation between Van Boxmeer and another employee about the opening in Rochester.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," Weisbeck said.
He has been in the proper place ever since, tending to a few critical moments over the years.
Former defenseman Mike Hurltbut was struck in the throat by a deflected shot and ended up being rushed to the hospital when his breathing became compromised due to swelling.
Former defenseman Martin Tuma had his wrist sliced by a skate blade, but it turned out looking worse than it was.
"I always envisioned myself going to the NHL and that didn't happen," Weisbeck said, "but that's OK. I'm happy here."