Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Over the Boards: Rink Stories

Tales from interning in major junior hockey because the best stories happen at the rink.


Source
I know, I know. It hasn't been long since my first set of Rink Stories, but they're too good to pass up!

Hockey players are notoriously known as the nicest, most approachable athletes. One of my fav stories involves a Washington Capital helping a mother and daughter change a flat tire. While it's believed most are inherently nice because they're predominantly Canadian, I think it actually has to do with the family mentality of the sport.

Whichever theory you prefer, here are a couple stories showing the softer side of hockey players:

  • If you read my previous stories, you already know we do post-game locker-room tours for fans 12 and younger. Of course, tours are much more pleasant after a win, but either way, the guys put on their smiles and engage the kids like pros.

    Watching the kids give the players (also kids) words of encouragement is hilarious but heartwarming.

    Recently, we had a 2- or 3-year-old who was too scared to go in the locker room, so we sent an intern through the line to get his poster signed. Of course, the guys heckled the intern but also inquired about the little dude.

    Feeling extra confident after a big win, a player decided he was going to get this kid in the locker room. He went into the hallway and met the little guy, but there was no way he was leaving is dad's arms--he hiding his face in his dad's shoulder while the player talked to him.

    After a few seconds of thought, the player went back into the locker room, grabbed a stick, signed it and handed to the kid and his dad. At almost the same exact moment, we brought him autographed poster. Between the stick and the poster, the kid was elated. He gave the player a shy thank you.

    As soon as the player left, he came right out of his shell. Always looking for good content, I ended getting a picture of him holding his new hockey stick and giving his best hockey-player face, which was pretty menacing.

    He'll eventually grow into the stick.
  • Now for one involving my fav player: during another locker room tour, a coach requesting a team picture with a particular player. To protect our players from the harsh words of all-knowing peewee hockey parents, parents aren't allowed in the locker room and pictures aren't allowed in the locker room unless take by staff. In this scenario, the player was nice enough to come out of the room post-tour and pose with the team for a picture.

    After the player went back in the room (of course, I jumped on the social media opp), I was busy uploaded the shot to Instagram when I overheard the coach talking to his team. Turns out the player was once a member of the team. The coach spent a few minutes telling the kids the players' stats, how he had been drafted in the first round and how they could be just like him as long as they worked hard and kept practicing.

    The aforementioned player was drafted 16 overall in the NHL entry draft and was called up for training camp following the end of the lockout. Not wanting to waste a year of his three-year entry-level contract, they sent him back to us. But this kid will definitely be in the show next season. He's got the size and skill.

    Edit: This player made his NHL debut during the 2013 NHL Playoffs.
The heartwarming stories are just as good as the funny stories. Stay tuned for more tales from the rink!

Until next time...

- J

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