A trip behind the scenes at the MSG Training Center

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Hey folks. It’s been a while since you heard from me. When not making my superhero turn to swoop in and save Sam from the evil wretches of the golfing universe, “I’m probably doing this.”:http://sixthman.lohudblogs.com

The reason I’m checking in this afternoon is because I wrote a story for today’s paper you may want to check out. “I spent about three hours one morning before practice last week hanging with the Rangers equipment managers in an otherwise off-limits area at the MSG Traning Center.”:http://lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070213/SPORTS01/702130377/1034/SPORTS You can read the story there, “but you can also see a number of pictures in our gallery.”:http://jukebox.lohud.com/photos/index.php?section=sports&date=2007-02-12

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I pass this along because I genuinely believe this is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done in my job, and I’ve covered NLCS and ALCS games, the U.S. Open (golf and tennis), and world championship boxing matches in New York and Atlantic City. The equipment guys — Acacio “Cass” Marques and James “Beets” Johnson — really welcomed me into their workshop, which gave a fascinating look into the sheer volume of gear the Rangers keep in their possession. You’ll see it all in the pictures: sweaters galore, socks, jocks, Under Armour, helmets, gloves. You name it, they had it, and they had every different brand. In fact, I’d estimate the team could outfit more than 200 EXTRA players with the amount of gear it has on hand.

Beets, the son of a sportswriter from Virginia, Minnesota, was especially welcoming. I figure he must understand how important access is to a reporter — although he does drink a lot of coffee and probably has the boundless energy to talk to anyone. I asked him at one point: “How many cups of coffee do you drink each day? Five?” His response was classic, twinged with a Minnesota accent: “Ah, yah. Before noon.”

That was my other impression. Not only to these guys have much more at their desposal than you’d expect, but they work like crazy to keep the Blueshirts on the ice and to keep them happy. They arrive in Greenburgh around 7 a.m. each day before practice. If it’s a game day, they’ll pack up the truck and head down to the Garden around 2 p.m. After the game, they pack the truck back up and drive back to Westchester, arriving at some point between 11 p.m. and midnight. All they have to do then is unpack the truck AGAIN and hang the gear in their drying room before going home. That’s an 18-hour day. And Cass will be back sharpening skates at 7 a.m. the next morning. Makes you understand all the coffee.

Anyway, you can find out a lot more in the story. I know you’ll love the pictures, too, so make sure to check them out. (One not in the gallery is that of Shanny’s All-Star jersey, which hangs in the locker with all the other jerseys. I thought it looked more contoured in person compared to the current sweater than it looks on TV.)

If you see anything in the pics or the story you have more questions about, let me know and I’ll get back to you at some point.

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24 Comments

  1. it’s always interesting to see this kind of stuff. I’m surprised they only have 2 people doing all of those jobs. They both must have some crazy stories about the players.

  2. Longtimerangerfan on

    Maybe you could talk “Cass” and “Beets” into accidentally, of course, burning the third jerseys.

  3. Longtimerangerfan on

    bklynblue
    February 13th, 2007 at 2:17 pm
    Sam sounds like a germ heaven. That could be where all their flu symptoms start from.

    Speaking of flu, Sam, why don’t the players all get flu shots at the beginning of the flu season or is it against the rules ie: illegal drugs, etc.

  4. I don’t think flu shots are infallible. Influenza has so many different strains that it’s almost impossible to protect against every one. I’m not a doctor, but I remember hearing about that. Any doctor-bloggers out there with an answer?

  5. Most of the time when they say that there is a flu bug, they mean a stomach flu. That isn’t caused by influenza, and the flu shot doesn’t help against it.

  6. Longtimerangerfan
    February 13th, 2007 at 2:17 pm
    Maybe you could talk “Cass� and “Beets� into accidentally, of course, burning the third jerseys.

    Couldn’t agree with you anymore. Is it me, or are they wearing them less this year than they have in the past?

  7. Wait, what happens when THESE guys get sick??

    “..He (Avery) must wear a custom-fit glove because he has unusually short fingers.”

    Hey, you know what they say….

    And MAN you traditionalists are harsh, I love the 3rd jersey, and I’ve been a fan since 1974. I also really liked the “Ferguson” 3rd jersey from the 70’s that he ultimately took with him to Winnipeg.

  8. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.

    1. I don’t know the equipment budget, but it must be incredible.
    2. Getting the job – Oddly enough, Marques actually came to the job as the assistant before moving to top dog and did so in what seemed to me to be unusual fashion. He actually operated the equipment room at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye, and began doing some repair work for the team. They liked him and asked him to come in when a job opened up.
    3. Not sure about the salary, but it should be decent with all the hours those guys work.

  9. josh,

    nice article. I love behind-the-scenes stuff like that. On two of the pix there’s a pile of something (maybe skate boxes) behind a cage, and on the boxes are some long-gone names: fedyk, popovic, mactavish. What are those things/boxes?

    thanks.

  10. onetimer…

    I don’t know what’s in the boxes from memory, but I can tell you it isn’t skates. The locker area held strickty uniform stuff, so perhpas it’s boxes of different colored socks or something along those lines. In that picture, the skates would’ve been to the left of Beets and the sewing machine.

    The tags you see attached to the chain link fence are, as you guessed, old name plates of Rangers past. Leetch, Esposito, Gartner, etc. One of the previous equipment managers, whose name escapes me, began hanging the name plates at Playland and the team decided to continue the tradition over in Greenburgh. It’s pretty amazing.

  11. Doodie Machetto on

    Great story Josh. Did you wear noseplugs?

    PS, for those 3rd jersey haters: no third jerseys for any team next season.

  12. Longtimerangerfan on

    Doodie Machetto
    February 14th, 2007 at 11:16 am
    Great story Josh. Did you wear noseplugs?

    PS, for those 3rd jersey haters: no third jerseys for any team next season.

    Yeah, I know and am glad…maybe it’s just me but it seems when they wear the 3rd jersey, they lose. I absolutely HATED the John Ferguson era jerseys and was glad when they stopped using those. I guess I’m a trationalist at heart…diagonal Ranger’s, no shield or Liberty Head, just plain Ranger’s.

    PS: Can you imagine Ferguson changing the “Habs” jerseys? He would have been run out of town!!!!!!

  13. thanks for clarifying, Josh.

    if the equipment guys have it tough at home, it must be even more difficult to get all that stuff moved around and packed up when the team is on the road.

    Keep those behind the scene features coming. I’ve always wondered what the deal was with players choosing equipment, brands, endorsement deals, etc. I thought in the past, e.g., Tyutin was a Bauer guy from his equipment, but he seems to have changed this year–what’s behind those choices and changes in general?? I guess I’ll have to wait for pt. 2 of your installment. Good work.

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