WINNIPEG – They’re the unsung heroes of hockey, often sacrificing sleep to help make their team standout. After all, if the Manitoba Moose don’t look good they won’t play good.
“We take a lot of pride and have very high standards on our equipment,” Moose head equipment manager Graham “Spike” Watt said.
Watt is in charge of making sure what the players wear on the ice for practices or games is always prepared.
“It’s very important for us to be proactive and on top of things,” Watt said. “So when a player asks for something, it’s ready for him.”
On top of keeping a full stock of gear, Watt and his staff fix any broken equipment, sharpen skates and clean the dressing room. The toughest task though, is transporting the team across the continent. Luckily, they have a game plan for that.
“Airlines don’t allow you to take a lot of stuff on the plane,” Watt said. “We have 28 pieces of equipment that stay in the USA. They get trucked from city to city.”
It’s rare for the Moose equipment crew to get a timeout during the season. The two main members are at the rink nearly seven days a week. When the team plays a game, they work upwards of 18 hours straight.
“I joke at home at the start of the hockey season with my parents that I won’t see them until April,” assistant equipment manager Robert “Cookie” Cook said.
Their goal is similar to the players — get noticed by the NHL.
“The nice thing about (the AHL) is that it’s a developmental league for everyone,” Cook said. “Everyone is trying to get to the next level.”
A dream they know can’t be accomplished without hard work.