The countdown has begun! Actually, several countdowns have begun. We're 11 days away from the start of training camp, 15 days from our first preseason game, and 22 days from our regular-season home opener. But the important thing to note is that another hockey season is upon us. The ice is down (it still needs a few layers to be game-ready, but it's skate-ready now), there is gear hanging in the locker room and soon the air in the Civic Center will echo with the familiar sounds of blades slashing through ice, sticks slapping against pucks and pucks clanking off posts or swishing into the net (or crashing off boards and glass). I can feel it already, an electricity in the air and a chill on my skin. With just over a week before training camp starts I'm finishing up preparations for the season. Our equipment has been coming in and I've been checking it in and putting it away to get it organized and ready to issue to the players.
I haven't been doing it all by myself, though, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my game-day helpers for all they do for the team (on Game and non-Game days). On Game Day, there are a thousand little details that need to be attended to in order to make sure that everything runs smoothly. This runs the gamut from setting up the benches, referees room, and visitors room before the game to putting everything away after the game...and everything in between.
Starting at the top, there's Philip "Flip" Weaver. Flip's been here since Day One of the Cottonmouths franchise, and his help has been invaluable, especially in familiarizing myself with everybody when I first came here. On Game Day, I know I can count on him to make sure all the little tasks get done while I'm on the ice. He rides herd over the rest of the staff and keeps them sharp. If I need something done and don't have time to do it myself, I tell Flip and it gets done. End of Story.
After Flip, Matt DePuydt has been another regular on the staff, and his work ethic and attention to detail are unrivaled. He has been a great help to me in keeping the equipment room organized. One thing about me...I love having things organized, but hate organizing them. Shooter loves organizing things. I have to reel him in sometimes when he wants to throw some things out, but he does a great job back there.
Barney Slayton...how do I describe him? Barney is whatever we need him to be on any given day. He has been a game-day helper, a youth hockey coach, a (championship-winning) mens-league goalie, occasional comic relief and, most famously, an EBUG (Emergency Back-Up Goalie) for the Snakes. I really think he'd drive the Zamboni at night if we let him. At one time or another, he's had his hand in just about every aspect of the operation of the team. His positive attitude and even-keel demeanor are infectious. He never lets anything get him down, and always has a way of shining a light on any situation. He's like a miniature Buddha, covered with hair (inside joke).
Tyler McCrea and Bubba Jowers are the Beavis and Butthead of the locker room staff. They work hard, and they'll do whatever we ask of them, but sometimes I just have to shake my head at their antics. They will latch onto the most ridiculous things to amuse themselves, and sometimes I worry about those two. But they do a good job, and they take it well when the boys hack on them, all in good fun. They've been coming down the last couple of weeks to help me sort out some stuff in the equipment room, and they helped us out with our equipment sale at the CHA registration event. We had another good sale and it was due in large part to their help. Thanks, boys.
Last, but not least, we have Ryan Knight. Ryan's kind of quiet, so I don't really know him well. I haven't spoken to him much, and he hasn't spoken to me much. But he shows up every game and does his job, and I really appreciate all his help.
I take pride in how smoothly our locker room and equipment room run on Game Days, but in truth I couldn't do it without the help of all of these guys. Every Game Day I appreciate what they do for the team. Thanks, guys!
On a quick note, there were a couple of notable names in the SPHL news recently. Former Knoxville pest (and blogger) Mike Craigen was named the new Head Coach of the IceBears. In other news, the IceBears signed former Snake Lorne Misita and former Fireantz forward Emery Olausson. These are a couple of good pickups for them. It'll be interesting to see what impact those two have on the Bears this season.
T-Minus 20 days, 20 hours and counting. Go Snakes!