The job of the Chicago Blackhawks’ equipment manager is never done
It might not be the most glamorous job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Troy Parchman has been the equipment manager for the Chicago Blackhawks for more than 20 years! Imagine all that he has seen! Parchman joined the Blackhawks in 1994, and has been with the team ever since.
“Our job is basically everything related to equipment and the day-to-day operation of the team. We fix, maintain, and transport the equipment for each hockey game at home and on the road,” Parchman says. (Fresh Wave, September 2012)
On a game day, Parchman and his crew usually arrive at the rink at 6:30-7 a.m., and they don’t leave until midnight. Now that’s a long day! What happens in all that time? The Chicago Blackhawks’ website did an interesting interview with Parchman in which he describes a typical day.
Basically, the first order of business is to get the dressing room, the hallway to the bench and the bench itself all in order. At the United Center, the Blackhawks share the building with the Chicago Bulls, so the transition has to be made from basketball back to hockey.
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Parchman then settles in to sharpen all the skates the players want done before the morning skate. Some players prefer their skates done after the morning skate, so he usually has eight to 12 pairs of skates to sharpen at a time. He describes doing skates as being very monotonous. It takes a while to do, and one has to concentrate and pay very close attention in order to get it done right.
As the players start to arrive, Parchman and his three assistants are available to help them with anything they may need fixed or tweaked. Around 10:30 a.m. is when morning skate begins, and while the players are on the ice, Parchman cleans up the equipment stalls.
The skate only lasts for about a half hour, but then Parchman has to wait for the media and players to clear out before he can start setting out the socks and jerseys at the players’ stalls for the game.
Parchman and his crew eat lunch with the team at the pre-game meal. He says a lot of people stay at the rink during the day.Everybody is busy working out and then napping. He spends this time vacuuming and paying bills. Oh, and of course he takes a nap as well, usually on a trainer’s table or an empty spot in the dressing room. The sport of hockey certainly wasn’t made for people who have a hard time taking naps.
The players start to arrive and prep for a game around 4:30 p.m. Parchman and his assistants are kept busy with numerous requests and last-minute fixes. There’s also the little details of picking up clothes hangers and putting out towels and drinks for everyone. Before you know it, it’s time for the game.
Parchman is on the bench for the entirety of any game. Mostly, he is there to ensure the players have the gloves and sticks they need throughout the night. Apparently most of the guys have two or even three pairs of gloves that they like to rotate as the game progresses. They are labeled and numbered for each player, and given to them in sequence so they can keep track of them.
In between periods there is the balancing act of trying to dry gloves and shoulder pads and skates. But apparently the real balancing act is keeping track of all the sticks.
Parchman has the players’ extra sticks lined up behind him. According to Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune, the centers’ sticks are first, because they are more likely to break them with all the faceoffs they take. The rest of the sticks are lined up in numerical order according to the number the player wears on his jersey.
Each stick has a distinctive knob that is the personal trademark of the player. These knobs generally consist of combinations of different colors and amounts tape. It helps Parchman to be able to recognize and replace a broken stick at the moment’s notice. This, of course, is very important, as a player without a stick is at a huge disadvantage on the ice.
Parchman said the team budgets for about six-dozen sticks per player per season, give or take a few depending on the player. For instance, Jonathan Toews likes to use a new stick every game, whereas winger Andrew Shaw hates re-taping new sticks and will use his as long as possible. (Chicago Tribune, 2015)
Why does this little tidbit not surprise me? Toews comes across as being almost fanatical when it comes to his preparation. Whereas I could see Shaw being too busy jawing in the dressing room to mess with re-taping his stick.
In the midst of all the obligations Parchman and his staff are handling, they can never forget about the laundry. “Parchie,,” as the ’Hawks like to call him, says, “We do 18 loads of laundry on a game day, so the washers and dryers never stop from the time morning skate is over.” I wonder if they would notice if I brought my family’s laundry over and snuck it in there.
When the game is finally over, the job of the equipment manager is STILL not done. He has to wait for the media to leave, and then he sets up the stalls, hangs everything, does more laundry and pulls insoles out of all the skates so they can dry. Now at last he can go home, but it’s almost midnight!
So the next time you see Troy Parchman behind the Chicago Blackhawks’ bench during a game, I hope you have a greater understanding and appreciation of what he does behind the scenes. I know I will.
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