How to outfit an NHL team
The Kings equipment manger tells how he keeps the players looking sharp
HE'S HOISTED THE Stanley Cup and won gold with Team Canada, but the greatest achievement of LA's longtime gear guy is keeping his team -- and its skates -- sharp.
1. Sometimes you just have to get crafty.
When we get a new player, the first thing I do is call the other team's equipment manager and swap information -- what the guy wears, any special needs, etc. If it's via a trade, we exchange some equipment too. We got Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline. He wears a custom Easton glove. I didn't have it in stock, so we spray-painted his old ones black and changed the cuff rolls until we could get him some new gloves in our colors.
2. We live on the edge
We sharpen every player's skates before every game. No specific thing that equipment managers in other sports do has such a direct impact on a player's performance. Some guys, like Sidney Crosby -- who I worked with at the Olympics in Sochi this year -- get their skates sharpened between every period, whether they need it done or not. It's amazing how sensitive hockey players are about their skates. They can feel every bad edge.
3. I'm a bladerunner
It's a big deal to lose a player because of a skate issue. During one game this season, Jarret Stoll and Matt Frattin came off the ice with bad edges at the same time. I used to have to choose which guy I did first, then run to the sharpener in the locker room to fix the blade. But the new Bauer Lightspeed Edge blade has a trigger that lets us pop the steel out without taking the skate off. So we can get a player back on the ice without him having to miss a shift.
4. It's all about the tools
I keep laces, pliers and sharpening tools like a stone and a Sweet-Stick (to smooth nicks out of blades) in a kit on the bench. One of our players got his stick caught in the glass and tore his glove apart trying to pull it out. We used zip ties to hold the glove together until he could get to the locker room between periods. When it's a goalie equipment issue, we really have to think on our feet to keep him in the game.
-- as told to Ben Arledge
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