September 14, 2010
When cuts have been made and the team is solidified, there's about a one week period of free-gear awesomeness. It's like Christmas, if your parents knew how to shop for 100-flex right-hand mid-curve squared-with-grip SK-11 RBK one-piece hockey sticks.
Which they don't.
While sticks and skates take a little time to come in - after all, you have to check out the demos, get your measurements down and all that good stuff - everything else is ready to rock, all shiny and new.
The day after filling out a form that looks like an order sheet at a sushi bar, the trainer has loaded up the stall beneath your gleaming steel nameplate: There's shorts and pants and spandex. There's long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, and if you're That Guy, sleeveless ones, all in dry-fit. Hey look, everyday t-shirts. There's long socks or short socks or thin socks or thick socks. And on that special New Gear Day, there's the piece de resistance - in pristine condition with team colors, you new helmet, gloves and pants. You're ready to go.
So as you can imagine, it's a happy day. Or rather, it should be a happy day...
It ends up dividing guys into three groups. You've got your:
These guys are happy with their stuff, have some personal touches to add to them, and get on their way. This is about 85% of the team. And then there are the other two types of guys.
The Gear Bitches
A gear bitch is a guy who sucks at life, in my opinion. He's spoiled, entitled, and probably thinks he's better than he actually is. He manages to take this special day, march to the trainers' office (along with a couple people who are there with legitimate problems, like the wrong size helmet), and monopolize the entirety of the equipment guy's time.
It's okay to be particular about your gear - we all have our little things, after all - but he needs his problems solved right now.
He's cutting stuffing out of his gloves, he wants extra shirts so can change them between periods, he likes his laces to be 120" waxed and single-stitched, not 108" un-waxed and double-stitched, stupid lazy trainer.
But his problems will never be solved, not for the entirety of the year. He'll claim the equipment guy is brutal at sharpening skates, though no one else will have that problem.
And he will always have new skates on order, because the last ones came with double thick tongues instead of double-long. Don't you know he needs to fold the tongues over?
The "Whatever" Guy
I went to college with a guy who seemed annoyed that sticks needed to be taped at all. One year, his sticks came in completely wrong in every way save for the hand, and he had the chance to send them back for whatever it was he wanted. He barely managed to get out the word "meh" before he started to (grudgingly) tape one up - without cutting, of course, because he would just adjust to whatever the length his sticks showed up so he didn't have to deal with that annoying hacksaw stuff.
As you may have guessed, he was a defenseman.
And there's one or two of these guys in most locker rooms. They'll grab the twig off the rack, tape it, and never think about it again. As opposed to the Gear Bitch, who needs 35 minutes alone with his stick to file, grind, cut and pet. For The Whatever Guy, this special day is no big deal. It's just the tools of the trade, mere requirements necessary to play the game of hockey, right?
And logically, he is right. But come on - can you tell me you don't get excited when you get a bunch of new stuff?
I would think if western culture has taught us anything, it's that stuff makes us cooler, and probably way better people (if I correctly remember the lessons I've learned from watching the E! Channel with my ladyfriend).
Between the always apathetic Whatever Guy and the self-important Gear Bitches, you're probably only dealing with a handful of people.
For the Normal Guys who manage to walk the line between so-what and selfish, it's just kids-on-Christmas, tearing off plastic, trying to suppress their excitement about all the new stuff because, "Hey, act like you've been there before."
And now, as a rec hockey plug, it kills me to buy new equipment. I'm gonna run this stuff I have into the ground, because really, $7 bucks for the sharpening and $3 for the tape? Die.
Justin Bourne blogs on Bourne's Blog. His columns and videos will appear on this site on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.