Gear gurus seeing stars

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The break -- and what a break it would be -- could be plenty rejuvenating.

Let's face it, life as an NHL equipment manager can be tiring.

Really, really tiring.

But Calgary Flames head man Gus Thorson and assistant Mark DePasquale won't be using the all-star break to recharge their batteries.

While the team will have eight days between games, the equipment crew will spend some of that time in Atlanta, where they'll join Flames players and Western Conference starters Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf at the rink instead of resting.

"The thought did cross my mind," Thorson said. "To have some days off in the middle of the season would be good.

"But also, the All-Star Game is something I may never have another chance to get.

"The fact I'd get some time to spend with (Thrashers equipment manager) Bobby Stewart, who's a good friend, and work with him, I didn't want to turn it down."

The job at the annual showcase is given to the NHL's trainer with the most seniority without having served at an all-star game.

Thorson joined the Flames in 1999, replacing Stewart after working for the Canadian national team for 10 years.

"As a hockey fan, it's a neat thing just to be a part of it," he said.

"At the 1998 all-star game, we were preparing for the Olympics, so we had the Team Canada outfitting at the game in Vancouver, so I got a brief glimpse of it there but wasn't involved.

"As somebody who is a hockey fan, it's gonna be pretty neat.

"It will be busy," Thorson added. "I told somebody I expect it to be busy but I don't expect it to be stressful.

"To see these guys up close and see a different side of these guys -- you see the players on the ice when we're playing them -- will be a highlight for me."

The Flames are picking up the tab for DePasquale to join Thorson in Atlanta, as well as their wives, Fran Thorson and Kelly DePasquale.

"It'll be work experience for me. It'll be a holiday for my wife," Thorson said.

He's hoping there will be enough downtime to relax a bit. After all, Thorson and DePasquale spend so much time in the dressing room.

"Apparently, from talking to people, it's changing a lot of jerseys, getting a lot of things signed, making sure they have the right products for the right sponsors at the right time -- a lot of housekeeping things," Thorson said of the all-star game.

"They've all been around this their whole careers. For some of them, it'll be their first time because everybody has a first, but the league has a lot of good people running the show and been through it dozens of times."


Photos