When a new player comes in, how do you and your staff go about preparing their equipment?
A perfect example was at the beginning of the season, when we traded for Shane O’Brien. He is a player that we have never dealt with before. So I get in contact with Vancouver’s Equipment Manager and discuss what his preferences are and what he needs. However, he got here before any of the stuff we ordered has come in, so I let him go back and look through the equipment we already have to find stuff that he likes. Then when the stuff we ordered came in, he used some of it and keep some of the stuff he already picked out. What about when a player is recalled from Milwaukee?
In those cases, we’ve had some exposure to the players, either through training camp or rookie camp. So we will give them their training camp jersey. Every player gets real game jerseys made up during training camp and we just hold on to them throughout the season. If either of them were here for an extended period of time, then we would start the process and they would eventually get to change numbers. If it is a last minute call-up, we usually travel with enough pants and gloves to cover any possible situation. David Poile and Barry Trotz do an excellent job of keeping us informed of possible situations where we would need to have a player’s stuff ready to go at a moments notice. For example, forward Linus Klasen
met us in Detroit back at the end of October. We already had his stuff ready to go because we knew there was a good chance he would be called up. The communication between the Hockey Operations Staff and my staff makes it a pretty seamless transition for them and for us. How do you go about ordering equipment for each player?
Most of the equipment is all custom-made; it comes from the supplier with the players specifications. They all have their own needs and their own preferences. Each one likes a certain type of stick, certain gloves and helmets. That is what’s great when it comes to hockey equipment. The players have a lot of latitude to choose the stuff they like. Take football for instance; there are just helmets and pads. There are only a few different manufactures and they have to stay within the same regulations. With hockey, there are several different manufactures and they all produce different equipment. That is key for hockey players that are always looking for that competitive edge – the little things that will help them become a better player.You take care of the most of the equipment but the players deal with their own sticks, correct?
Yes, the players do all that on their own. We order their sticks and then the individual players come back and get them all set up the way they like them. With our new locker room set up, there is a separate stick customization room. They don’t have to stand out in the hall to work on their sticks anymore. They can stay back there and cut them and tweak them. Are they any players that are really particular about their equipment?
Not really. I wouldn’t say that we have everyone trained but they have a good level of trust in how we take care of their equipment. We sharpen everyone’s skates before every practice and every game. The one thing that we get really particular on is how we sharpen the skates because the ice is different at every rink. The ice at Bridgestone has been great so far this year, so we haven’t really had to alter their skates here at home but when we are on the road is when we have some issues. Other than that, we don’t really get any peculiar requests from any of the guys; we have a pretty grounded team here. Can you talk about how the NHL regulations come into play when dealing with the player’s equipment?
I try to stay on top of the players to ensure everything is within regulation. The NHL has changed the rules on the curve of the stick. So it is pretty hard to have an illegal curve now, but we are constantly on top of things to make sure that they are within the rules. Pretty much everything that has to do with their equipment is regulated in some way. Even little things like the logos on their gloves. The NHL does a good job making sure that the equipment comes from the manufacture with all the right specifications and information. Occasionally, we will have a piece of equipment that will slip through the cracks. That is when it is our responsibility to make sure it is corrected and back within the rules. As hockey continues to grow in the Nashville area, what advice do you have for parents looking to get their children involved in hockey for the first time?
The biggest thing is to make sure everything fits the child properly. Hockey is an expensive sport, so there is a tendency to try to buy everything just a little bigger to maximize the use. However, if they’re out there in equipment that is too big for them, especially with the helmet, that can cause a kid to get hurt. The helmet is the most important piece of equipment from an injury standpoint. You don’t want it to be loose at all. Most helmets are adjustable to a range of different sizes, so you can make sure it fits snug but still get a couple years of use out of it. If the helmet isn’t tight enough, when that kid falls and their head hits the ice, they could get seriously hurt.