Tracking the trainers

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Half the NHL campaign is spent on the road -- 41 games, to be exact.

For the Flames this season, that means nearly 50 nights in hotel beds, plus another 20 or so late-night trips home.

It's a huge job for those in charge of the all the equipment needed by the travelling circus.

When the Flames descend upon a city the night before a game, the players and coaches may get to scatter for dinner, a movie or to watch a game in a sports bar (the usual activity for the coaching staff).

Equipment manager Gus Thorson and assistant Mark DePasquale are in charge of some 60 bags and trunks weighing nearly 4,000 lb.

They hang every player's gear in their stalls, sort laundry, replenish supplies and sharpen skates, among a multitude of other duties.

A good night after playing in another city means getting to bed around 2 a.m.

A tough night means sleeping on a couch at the rink.

It's tough, demanding and draining, but the greatest job in the world, Thorson says.

"Sometimes, I question myself, but for the most part, I don't," he said. "Other than that one trip (a seven-game stretch in March), our schedule is pretty good this year."

The key, Thorson said, is preparation. After all, forgetting to bring the sweaters isn't acceptable.

"The whole job, whether it's home or on the road, is very much a routine. Game days, you do the same things in the same order. Practice days, you do the same thing in the same order. Travel days, you do the same thing in the same order," Thorson said.

"Some say it's a grind. Some say it's a routine. Sometimes, it's both."

The support staff is an integral part of the team. One or both of athletic therapists Morris Boyer and Gerry Kurylowich help out when they arrive for a late-night set-up.

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ON THE ROAD

Wanna know what the Flames cart from city to city?

On top of their equipment, each player brings an extra pair of skates and gloves, plus two or three sticks prepared for games and another one or two extras for every game on the trip.

The goalies bring a second mask.

The nearly 40 equipment bags, plus one belonging to each member of the coaching staff and the stick bags, is just the beginning.

On top of that, they'll bring:

- Sweater Trunk -- One jersey for every player in the organization with a signed NHL contract in case somebody is summoned from the minors, plus blanks and a namebar kit in case a trade is made.

- Two medical trunks.

- Two equipment trunks -- Combined weight nearly 600 lb

- Five trainer bags.

- Video equipment and head sets.

- Skate sharpener.

- Miscellaneous items -- iPod and stereo for the dressing room, shower flip flops, gum, mouthguards, crested pucks, spare equipment, running shoes, team workout gear, sewing machine and hand sewing kit.

- Practice gear (black jerseys for game days and coloured for practices, including socks).

- Tape (duct, fibreglass, friction, gauze, masking, red and yellow stick tape).


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