Flames trainers get little shuteye en route to all-star nod

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

A week ago today, Gus Thorson, equipment manager of Calgary's Flames, and his assistant Mark de Pasquale were schmoozing with the best hockey players in the world. They had been selected as the equipment crew for the Western Conference entry at the National Hockey League all-star game in Atlanta.

For the two of them, it was basically a paid holiday as the Flames picked up costs for their families to go along for the ride.

To be brutally honest, it was not that tough an assignment. In fact, Gus says they had only four pairs of skates to sharpen the whole time, those of one linesman, Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks, and Flames Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf.

Things are not always so easy for this dedicated pair. I am about to relate a horror story for those who think their jobs would be perfect always hanging out with some of the best athletes in the world. I take you back to a trip to California not long ago. The Flames played the New York Rangers on a Wednesday in the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Next up were the San Jose Sharks and that was the next night. After the Ranger game, Gus, Mark and other support staff had to quickly pack more than 20 bags of equipment, sticks and hundreds of pounds of necessary gear, then get to the airport to join the team at customs.

Less than three hours later, the aircraft arrived in Oakland because a noise curfew would not allow a landing in San Jose after 11:30 p.m.

Players, coaches and equipment staff boarded a bus to San Jose, 40 minutes away, and while the others found their accommodations, Gus and Mark went to the rink to set up, not arriving at the hotel until the wee hours.

The club had an optional skate at 11:30 a.m., meaning not too much sleep for the guys you seldom see.

A team meeting was next on the agenda, with everyone then gathering at the rink at 5:30 p.m. For a 7:30 p.m. contest. As it turns out, this game went into overtime, but the results were good for the Flames if you recall, but now it's time to get to Los Angeles. You might remember that noise curfew we talked about. Well, that baby is still in effect, so it is a hasty pack job loading the bus and equipment truck by 10:40 p.m. to get in the air before 11:30 p.m.

The flight to L.A. was quick, and they arrived shortly after midnight.

The players and coaches headed for the hotel, while Gus and Mark were off to the practice rink to hang gear to dry. Friday was another optional skate which had the crew at the rink in the morning, but they had to wait until 11 p.m. to move into the Staples Center because the NBA Lakers had a game that night.

It sounds good from afar, but when you look at it up close, this is not your dream job. They deserved the all-star recognition.

Greener pastures

Our city lost a good man this week with the departure to California of Rod Proudfoot.

"Rudy", as I was the only one to call him, lost his job as general manager of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede casino when the Stampede sold the property to the Deerfoot Casino.

Not being offered a chance to apply for the job, he looked elsewhere and is headed for Newport Beach and a new company hoping to curb teenage obesity in the U.S.

Proudfoot touched many bases around here, including being a Southern Alberta sales manager for Molson, the manager of heavyweight boxer Willie deWitt, and head of communications and marketing for the Calgary Stampeders.

The good news is there is a spot for me to stay and swing a club or two whenever I'm in SoCal.


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