Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Player Interview: David Warsofsky

 

Today we spend a few minutes with Providence Bruins defenseman David Warsofsky. The Marshfield, MA native played his school hockey in Massachusetts, college hockey at BU and is now in the Boston Bruins system. We talk with David about the thrill of playing all of his organized hockey in his home state and a bunch of other stuff that we think you'll find pretty interesting. Off we go.....
 
1. You're a guy who played prep school in Massachusetts, college at BU and are now in the Bruins system – all Massachusetts! Do you ever wake up and feel lucky, man!? Before coming into the Bruins system, you were a part of the Blues organization. Did it ever enter your mind that you'd be where you are now? What crossed your mind when you got the call that you were coming into the organization you grew up rooting for?
 
Everyday I wake up and feel very lucky to be in the situation that I'm in today. I get to play the sport I love as my profession - and I get to do it all in front of my family and friends! I had only ever dreamt about playing for the Bruins organization. When I first got drafted by the Blues I thought I would play my whole career there. When I first got the call that I was coming back to Boston, I was just in shock. It took a little while for it to set in that I was actually part of the Bruins organization. It was a call that every kid playing hockey in this area dreams about every day and I will remember it my whole life. 
 
2. As a gear shop, we have to talk some gear. The pro players we talk to run the gamut from not being interested at all in their gear all the way up to being completely obsessed. How picky are you about it? Are you the type to let stuff literally fall apart before replacing it or are you really into the newest, the gear technology, etc?
 
I would say I'm somewhere in the middle of being very picky and then not really caring. I think it all depends on what type of gear we're talking about. I like to have new gloves, skates and sticks, obviously. But things like my elbow pads, shoulder pads and shin pads are usually pretty worn down. I do enjoy when the new gear comes out, the technology and to test it all out. 
 
3. With that said, is there one piece of equipment you're most picky about? 
 
I think every hockey player is very picky about their skates and sticks. I need to have my particular curve and flex, but after that I can get used to pretty much any type of stick. After that I would say I'm most picky about my gloves. I have to be able to feel the stick and be comfortable with the gloves. 
 
4. You mentioned you used to shop at the Pure Hockey store in Braintree when you were younger. In your memory, was it just a means to get gear for you or did you look at it the way tech-geeks look at going to the Apple store?! (we won't be offended, promise). Would you ever just go there to look at all the stuff?
 
I would go to Pure Hockey to get all my equiptment needs, everything from base layer to skates and sticks and when I was there I would check out all the new gear that was coming out. I have three older brothers who all played, so if I didn’t need anything I would always go with them to look around and pick things out for them. As I got older and started to understand the difference between the equiptment better, I think I looked at it in more of tech type of way. 
 
5. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?  
 
I have two little nephews and they both love hockey. So whenever I go over their house to babysit they always want to play mini hockey. Well, the youngest one got his stick up a little too high and ended up giving me a black eye. Not so funny at the time, but after it happened I couldn’t help but laugh! 
 
6. Is there one particular goal you've scored (or prevented) that is your most memorable?
I would say my most memorable goal was at Fenway Park, where I got to play in the outdoor game against Boston College. I had just gotten back from the World Junior Championships and went straight to Fenway for the game! I scored the first goal in the game and we also ended up winning, so that was a pretty special goal for me. 
 
7. Who is the toughest player you know? I don't mean fighting, I mean what teammate or player you know is THE guy who would get hit by a truck in the afternoon and be in the lineup that night?
 
I would have to say Bobby Robbins.  He is - hands down - one of the toughest guys I have ever played with. He will fight anybody or do anything to help the team win. I have seen him stick up for teammates numerous times. It takes a certain type of guy to do that. ?
 
8. Having come out of BU, you're probably somewhat used to the AHL level schedule where most games are played on weekends. Do you ever find yourself ever-so-slightly rusty when the puck drops on a Friday night (after 4-5 days of no game) and conversely, are you feeling a little gassed in the 3rd period on Sundays?
When I first turned pro it was definitely an adjustment but I think over the months I have gotten more used to it. The most important thing is to stay focused during the week and make sure you are always working hard in practice. The staff down here in Providence does a good job keeping us in game shape over the course of the week. I think Sundays are the toughest games to play in - it's usually the third game in three nights and its important to stay mentally focused for those games. 
 
 
 
 
Big thanks and continued good luck to David this season!
 
 


0 Comments Posted at 07:00AM on 02/06/2013

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Monday, January 07, 2013
NHL PLayer Interview: Hal Gill

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Joining us the second time for an interview on our blog is the Nashville Predators defensamen Hal Gill, now an NHL veteran of five teams and 10+ years in the league. We talk with Hal about playing in Nashville vs. the more pressure packed cities he's played in, what he might do after his hockey career is over and what series/games he'd like to have back. This interview was conducted on Saturday, one day before the lockout ended. Here we go.....



This will be the only lockout question: It's safe to say the lockout sucks on many levels, but let's try to spin it positive. Besides the obvious answer of getting to spend the extra valuable time with your kids and family, what other positives have you been able to wrestle out of this lockout? 

I guess I get some rest. Maybe I can add another season to my career. Really not much good comes from any of this CBA foolishness.

You've now run the gamut of pressure cookers, or lack thereof. Not belittling Nashville in any way, but playing in Boston, Toronto and Montreal - and then playing in Nashville - that has got to be completely different experience. Does the scrutiny or attention you get as a player in Montreal, for example, help your game and do you wonder and/or worry about how you may respond to just PLAYING without all the other stuff buzzing around?
 
When you are in a big market, there is a lot of noise so you can easily ignore it.  In a smaller market it is quiet a lot, so when there is an event, then things get loud real quick.  In the end, it's all the same when you get out on the ice.
 
 
In our last interview, we asked about your most memorable goal and your response was that you couldn't really think of one and that most of your good memories are of blocked shots. So now you know the next question - is there really one particular blocked shot you can cite? Or is it just the general collective pride of doing so? 

The best feeling is making a difference in a win. If I have a nice bruise from a blocked shot that won a game, then that's like a goal for me.  I guess it's a badge of honor.
 
 
There are endless websites and discussion forums chock full of youth and high school players who are OBSESSED about the technical features and the ins-and-outs of hockey equipment. Equipment doesn't make the player, I think that's obvious.  With that said, who would you say is a teammate you've had who was the most "into" their gear?
 
I played with Michael Cammalleri. He is very in tune with his gear - especially his skates and sticks.  I am comfortable with most gear.  Consistency is my biggest worry. I want each stick to be the same.
 
 
You are now 37. Congratulations! You've played a lot of games in the NHL - can you put into words somehow what it feels like as a 37 year old compared to, say, a 25 year old? Does the 37 year old Gill still feel the WOW factor when you step onto the ice in front of 15,000+, for example? Or is it something different now?
 
I still get the butterflies (man i miss those), but now my full attention is on winning.  When I was 25, there were more thoughts on ice time, contract and things of that nature.  I wish I knew then that it ALL comes together when you win.
 
 
You played through the playoffs this past season with a fractured tibia that had to be "frozen" before each game. Can you explain that process? Are you simply dipping that thing into a tub of ice for a while? Or is it more medical than that? That seems insane. Admirably insane, that is. 
       
Thank you but I think when you get "needled" to go out and play, it's something that most players have done just the same, so it isn't that big of a deal. What is a big deal is the way you play. When you can elevate your game while injured, then that is remarkable. 
 
 
As a New Englander, you grew up a Bruins fan. Are you still? The vibe we get from a lot of NHL players we talk to is that as the years go by, you find yourself becoming a fan of the team for which your closest friends play for as opposed to a particular team. 

Not really. I still havent gotten over my Hab days where they (Boston) beat us in 7. I'd give anything to get that one back.
 
 
Finally, do you think about post-career stuff yet? Do you want to stay in hockey somehow? Twitter for a few years and relax? Start a brewery? 
   
Haha, that all sounds good! I would love to get involved in coaching on some level and I will always support breweries - maybe not start one though!


Big thanks to Hal Gill for the time - and we are glad we were able to catch him before camp started.
 


0 Comments Posted at 01:00AM on 01/07/2013

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Player Interview: Todd Skirving (USHL), Part II

We are on the cusp of another hockey season for pretty much all players now. Except the NHL, of course. While the NHL and NHLPA are entangled in their complicated web of dollars, all other professional organizations are ramping it up and getting ready to press the GO TIME button. So we thought it made sense to check in once again with Todd Skirving, forward for Sioux Falls of the USHL. In our last interview with Todd, he walked us through his typical offseason, among a few other things. This time around we're talking about getting prepared for another season and some memorable games from past seasons. 

A few of you have asked how we found Todd. Simple answer. We don't have any endorsement deals or any kind of contract with Todd. Our Marketing team simply found him on Twitter and sent him a DM! He was a willing participant and is clearly a well-spoken, intelligent kid. Here we go.....



Growing up, who was your favorite hockey player?
Growing up as a kid I would have to say my favorite hockey player would be our home town hero Patrick Sharp. During my childhood I've had the pleasure to watch "Sharpy" grow not only as a person but as a player when he suited up for the Thunder Bay Flyers of the USHL. I had the opportunity to get my picture taken with Patrick when I was 8 years old and that picture still hangs up on my wall with his autograph to this day. Ever since then he has become my role model and a hockey player I look up to. I am fortunate enough to train and skate with him during the off season every summer. Patrick is always quick to offer me advice both on and off the ice and pushes me to be my best. He carries himself very well and is always giving back to the community. He constantly makes time for others even through the busy schedule that every NHL player experiences. He is a true hockey leader who plays with passion and determination and I can’t think of another player I would want to pattern myself after.
 
Who was the biggest inspiration for you throughout your hockey career?
My biggest inspiration for me throughout my hockey career and to this day has been my parents. My Mom and Dad have been there for me since day one and have been by my side day after day through thick and thin. They aren't just my parents but they are my biggest supporters and motivators. They both have worked hard for me to strive to be my best whether it be as a hockey player or as a productive member in life. They've had their fair share of early mornings taking me to practice during my Midget AAA days where I played for the Thunder Bay Kings. All the miles driven and missed days of work really helped me to be where I am today. They have sacrificed many things for me and basically put me ahead of themselves. To this day I can't thank them enough for everything they have done for me. I am truly grateful to have the parents that I have. They care so much about my well-being and have put my dreams ahead of their own. I love them both very much and want them to know that I cherish all the little things and commitments they have made to me throughout my young life thus far.
 
Now that we're getting close to a new season, what changes for you in terms of physical preparation - and mental?
Now that we're into our main training camp the physical and mental preparation is different. You want to train and practice at a high intensity and simulate game speed as much as possible. You want to get out of summer mode and get back after it. It's a time to get yourself back into actual game speed. In the USHL teams are fortunate enough to have preseason games and also take part in the fall classic. Since I've trained all summer it makes it a great tool to see where I’ve brought my game to from the previous season. It's very important to utilize these efforts and mentally prepare myself for game days. In the summer I would physically and mentally prepare myself for workouts. Now that the season is close to getting underway, it's time to dial in on we’ve worked on in practices to prepare yourself for weekend games.
 
If someone was to offer you a vacation to any place in the whole world, where you want to go? ... And why?
If someone was to offer me a vacation to any place in the whole world I would want to take a visit to the beautiful country of Italy. Many reasons for this include the fact that my Moms side of the family mostly all lives in Europe. It would be great to experience their lifestyle and enjoy the different culture aspects of the Italians. I think it would be a treat to try out the different types of food of their culture compared to what we eat here in Canada. I'm fortunate enough to have my Nonna (grandma) make me some of her special Italian recipes which include spaghetti, cabbage rolls and lasagna. Most grandmas are amazing cooks, but with her I get to experience the great meals passed on to her from her family. I have an amazing Nonna who takes good care of my family and I at all times. She has always been there for me with both moral and financial support since I chose hockey as my preferred sport.
 
Most hockey players are aware that the locker room can be a place for fun and games some of the time. Have you witnessed any good pranks in the locker room during your career?
I have witnessed some good pranks in the locker room during my career and have been one of those guys that pull them. Most pranks are just for the excitement of all of the guys and some may be because of revenge due to previous pranks. Whether it's one or the other it's always in good fun and the guys always get a laugh from it. One good prank is semi cutting the guys' lace so when he goes to tie his skates up before practice the lace breaks forcing him to re-lace his skate. Another classic prank is the water in the shinpads. In most locker rooms, players put there shinpads on top of their stall. Since it is so high up the player can't see the full cup of water sitting in his shinpad and when he pulls it down the water dumps all over him. Recently a player on my team figured a way to put that cup of water inside the skate while it hangs upside down in our stall. That probably has to be one of the worst ones yet as you go on the ice with a skate soaked in water. You go to put your skate on and the water cup tips all inside your skate. As most people know, the equipment managers have free time periodically on their hands so you never want to mess with them or get on their bad side. We once showed up to the rink during the first few winter cold days to all the players equipment sitting in a cart soaked and somewhat frozen. It had been put in the shower and left out in the cold to freeze. You never want to mess the equipment guy as they will always get the last laugh! All in fun and definitely keeps everybody loose.
 
What was the most memorable game that you have ever played in?
Everyone has probably had some personal highlight nights and I'm sure most people can't say those would ever be more memorable than a championship. I did however win a city championship back in my 15 year old season with the Current River Comets, but I feel that winning the Kelowna International Major Midget Tournament in British Columbia and being crowned champions was probably one of my most memorable weeks during my 16 year old season. I played for the Thunder Bay Major Midget Kings program back in Thunder Bay, Ontario my 16 and 17 year old seasons. It was a weeklong tournament and definitely a grind. A lot had transpired throughout the week from flight delays forcing us to be late, almost landing on top of another plane, being frozen shut inside the shuttle bus, sleeping in airports, having a full out team brawl, and even missing a few more days of school than expected right before final exams for our first semester. It was a week where we had to come together as a unit in a very short period of time. You have to learn from your mistakes quickly and overcome the adversity. We lost our first game and then our second game in a shootout which led to a post-game handshake brawl against another Ontario team at the time No. 2 Hamilton Red Wings who we were battling with for No. 1 in the province. That point turned out to be huge. We played the next game short due to suspensions and we won the rest of our round robin games. Every team that needed to either lose or win did and we found ourselves in the semis finals against No. 3 in America Colorado ThunderBirds. We went onto win that game 3 to 1 and of course met the Ontario rival Hamilton Red Wings. We went on to beating them 4 to 1 in probably one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of. It wasn't so much a personal night, but more of a team night. It was something special with a great group of guys which brought us together down the stretch into our playoffs back home. It is something we still all talk about to this day and will down in the future. It's a great memory to look back on knowing how much went into winning a championship and all the grittiness that went into winning. The team will always have a special spot in my heart. I will never forget that group of players and coaches for as long as I live.


4 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 10/09/2012

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Monday, September 10, 2012
Player Interview: Bobby Allen

Many hockey players and fans who live in New England remember the name Bobby Allen. A local kid (Hull, MA), Allen is among a long line of locals over the years who had the privledge of playing for Jerry York at Boston College, where he won a National Championship in 2001. For a lot of the Division I college players, that's the crown jewel in their hockey careers. Making it to the NHL is a hard road to hoe. Some do end up with solid careers in competitive and excellent leagues like the AHL, ECHL or over in Europe. A select few, like Bobby Allen, get drafted into the NHL. A subset of those drafted guys get to actually fulfill their dream and play NHL games. Bobby is one of them. While his career was cut short by injury, Bobby tasted the life of an NHL player with the Edmonton Oilers and played his last NHL games in the 2007-08 season as a member of the team he grew up rooting for, the Boston Bruins.

We caught up with Bobby recently and had this chat below. Bobby is now a regular in our stores because his little boy is just starting his career, so we talked about that, dealing with early retirement and the excitement around playing for the local, iconic organizations. Here we go....



During your career, you played for two iconic organizations in New England – Boston College and then in the NHL with the Bruins. Since you are born and raised in Massachusetts, obviously there's some fond memories there, but is it possible to even put into words how you felt before your first game with each of those teams? Must have been so wild!
We are fortunate to live in a place where great hockey is so prevalent. Like any other kid growing up, I idolized the Bruins, and in this town it seems like you grow up rooting for either BC or BU. I always cheered for maroon and gold. My first games for both teams were very special. It was always a dream to play college hockey - to represent such a historic program like BC was a privilege. My first game with the B's was just as special. You can't put into words putting on the Bruins jersey, it was really almost surreal. Being able to play for that organization was one of the greatest thrills of my life. 
 
2.  What do you remember most clearly about your very first NHL game as a member of the Edmonton Oilers?
My first game with the Oilers was a day I'll never forget. I remember the dressing room in Dallas, taking warm ups, the preparation and my first shift. I was probably gripping the stick a little tighter that day! Even though I didn't play that much, I'll always remember that day fondly, as it was the culmination of many years of hard work
 
3.  After you stopped playing, what kind of adjustment was it for you mentally and/or physically? You always hear about players who do – and don't -  adjust well to post-career life. How was it for you?
When I had to stop playing because of the lingering back issues that affected me my last year with the Bruins, it was devastating. I still miss playing. That was a very hard thing to wrap my head around. I had been a hockey player my entire life then all of a sudden it was over. So it definitely took me some time to adjust. I was fortunate that my parents always stressed the importance of an education, and that helped me in my transition to the business world. I have been trying to utilize some of the core values that I learned while playing in being successful in my new line of work. It's an ongoing process but I have welcomed this new chapter in my life. 
 
4. As a gear shop, we have to ask a gear question or two – how picky were you about your gear? Was there one thing specifically that you were really into?
For my hockey gear, I wasn't really too picky. I did love trying new things. When a rep came by, you can guarantee that I was over there trying something on or using a sample. The one thing I was crazy about was my stick. My curve and more importantly, my lie, had to be perfect or I could notice it. So my sticks were the things I was always tinkering with. 
 
5. Do you still play today? If so, are you still using your old gear from your playing days or do you keep updated?
With my back being what it is, I don't get to play as often as I'd like. I get out there every now and then and have a blast when I do. I am involved in coaching both youth and high school hockey, so I am on the ice all the time, just not always in full gear. I have the same stuff that I had when I stopped playing, and I don't see any updates in the future. Though I may need a new pair of skates, don't tell my wife.... 
 
6. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
The last thing I laughed really hard at was anything that my two kids (Quinn and Caroline) do. They are all the comedy that I need in my life. 
 
7. What is your favorite hockey memory or most memorable goal?
My favorite hockey memory was a toss up between winning the National Championship at BC and my first home game with the Bruins against Buffalo. I'll never forget my family waiting for me in the tunnel after the game at the Garden and the looks on my parents faces. That was about the greatest thrill you could have! 
 
8. You mentioned that you have your own child skating now. Talk about how that feels for you!
My son Quinn (4) is starting to play this year. I am so excited that he enjoys it so much. Needless to say, hockey is and has been a huge part of my life, and I look forward to many years of sharing the joy and passion I have for the sport with him. Hopefully he's a better player than his dad! 

We're pretty sure Quinn is already off to a good start with those bloodlines! Many thanks to Bobby Allen for taking the time to chat with us! Stick around for more interviews, gear reviews and other fun stuff.

 

 


0 Comments Posted at 02:00AM on 09/10/2012

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Thursday, June 28, 2012
NHL Player Interview: Pascal Dupuis

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

As we march through the offseason, here's another NHL player interview for you. Pascal Dupuis is currently a forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins and rides shotgun alongside none other than Sidney Crosby (when Crosby is healthy). Born in 1979 up in Laval, Quebec, Dupuis is another one of those feel good stories you run across with certain NHL players - he went undrafted, but ended up being signed by the Minnesota WIld and played his first NHL game with the Wild during the 2000-2001 season.

Minnesota's talent evaluators couldn't have been happier when he notched 20 goals and 28 assists in his second full season in Minnesota. Dupuis then went on to play for the New York Rangers briefly, the Atlanta Thrashers and then, during the 2007-2008 season, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where his game has flourished and he won a Cup in 2008-2009. This past season (11-12) was his personal best, with 25 goals and 34 assists. 

We asked Pascal these five questions.....hope you enjoy them!
 

1. What is one thing that the general public would never guess about you?
That I used to be a defenseman until midget AAA!


2. Being a gear store, we are well aware that all athletes are different with how they choose their gear - which piece of equipment are you the pickiest about?
Definitely my skates. My summer house up here in Quebec is close to Bauer factory, so I make a couple trips every summer to make sure my skates are all dialed up for the season!

3. Tell us what has changed the most for you regarding hockey equipment since you were a kid?
Sticks for sure! When I broke into the NHL, I was playing with a wood stick! The good ol' Sherwood PMP was my go to stick back then!

4. During the offseason, are you given a very specific workout program by the team, or is it just basic guidance and it's up to you to structure the specifics?
I have been working out with the same strength coach for the past 17 years, his name is Stephane Dube and I always use specific training put in place by him.  (ed. note: more on Dube here). 

5. Up to now, what is your most memorable goal that you've scored as a player?
I would have to say my double overtime goal against Ottawa in game 6 last year,  we were up 3-2 in that series and that goal I scored won the series for us!

Pure Hockey note: here's the goal:

 



Thanks to Pascal Dupuis for taking to time to have a quick chat with us! Stay tuned as we interview more professional hockey players during the offseason.



0 Comments Posted at 09:00AM on 06/28/2012

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Player Interview: Todd Skirving (USHL)

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

During the offseason, we here at Pure Hockey are still uber-focused on hockey equipment. The season truly never ends for us. While less hockey is certainly being played during the summer months, we are focused entirely on getting ready for the next season; what will we buy? what is the demand for? what changes do we make to the stores or the websites? how will we advertise? We ask oursleves these and a truckload of other questions. But the offseason also allows us to go out and talk to players who are too busy during the season to do so. 

Our interview today is with Todd Skirving. He's not an NHL player or a professional hockey player. Yet. Todd is a 20-year old kid who plays for Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL, one of the elite breeding grounds for the NHL and for NCAA Division 1 schools. How impactful has the USHL been, you ask? Well, a total of 28 USHL players were selected in last year’s 2011 NHL Entry Draft and more than 165 of the USHL's alumni are currently under NHL contract. 

One of our goals with this blog is not only to review hockey product for you, but for you to also gain an understanding of the sacrifice, culture, hard work and yes, fun, that goes into being a hockey player. This is the first of a series of interviews that we'll have with Todd as we follow up through the offseason and through the course of a USHL hockey season. Todd, in turn, is well spoken, educated and clearly is a person who knows what we wants. We sincerely hope you enjoy the series....here's part one:



1.  As a 20 year old playing in the USHL, hockey is obviously one of the main priorities in your life and takes up a great deal of time. Now that it's the offseason, what are some of your hobbies and what do you generally do?

For sure hockey is definitely one of my top priorities all year 'round.  It’s not just a way of living, it's also like a job.  You have to put continuous time and work into bettering yourself not only as a player, but also a person. I find that the way you carry yourself off the ice leads into how you perform on the ice, whether it is your determination towards general tasks or your tenacity towards wanting it more than the guy beside you.  Now that it’s the offseason, it gives me the chance to improve my skills and strengths and better myself in different assets of my game.  The offseason is also a chance to relax and reflect on the past season.  I encourage all players to get away from the rink and the gym once the season is at an end.  It’s healthy to give the body a rest and let it rejuvenate after a full, gritty season of hockey.  It will only benefit you when you get back after it in the weight room and out on the ice.  Personally, now that we’re midway through summer, I like to get a well-balanced healthy breakfast in me and also a lunch before I head to the gym.  I train in the early afternoon with a few of our local pro and college guys.  It’s nice to train with guys above my level as it pushes me to be the best I can be and also gives me footsteps I can follow.  They’re already at a level where my standards and goals are set for.  I do, however, like to hang with the guys, catch a local baseball game or head out to the lake to do some fishing.  I take the chance to visit with friends and family and let the body and mind recuperate.

 

2.  What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on the ice?

I don’t have too many embarrassing moments, but during my senior year of high school when I was playing for the Thunder Bay Kings (AAA), I broke my stick on a play.  I went to the bench and received a stick from another player, only to find out that it was right handed and not left!  I picked the puck up from the half wall and only then did I realize it. Once I got closer to the net, I just shot a backhander, thinking it would be my best opportunity to make something out of nothing.  As embarrassing as it was, it ended up going in!  Not so much embarrassing I guess, but definitely a funny highlight in my career that I look back on.

 

3.  A lot of hockey players can be wild and adventurous… Is there anything wild and crazy that you have always wanted to do at least once in your lifetime?

Yeah there are a few things I have wanted to do.  I’m not the biggest fan of heights, so you won’t catch me riding around the roller coaster at any Six Flags Parks, but I would however, love to take another ride up Toronto’s CN Tower.  They have recently added the CN Tower Edge walk where you walk around the top brim of the structure while being strapped in by a few belts.  It’s about 356m/ 1,168ft above the ground and about a 30 min walk around, so I’m sure that would be quite the experience and a view from up above!  It would be a huge adrenaline rush for me from doing something like that.  I’m also a big animal fan -  I would like the chance to be around a tiger, which is my favourite animal.  Just to be around one for a bit would be a cool opportunity.  Something else I would like to experience outside of hockey would be to swim with the dolphins.  I have had many friends that have experienced such a thrill, but it’s something I’d love to do and I think it would be a fun getaway and surreal experience.

 

4.  What is one thing that people would never guess about you, just from going and watching you play hockey?

There are a few things I could touch on here, but I would have to say my game day routines - or the fact that I am very superstitious.  It’s not even just on game day, but also in the days leading up to a game.  The way I prepare myself is different obviously from what others do, but in my case or even last year the guys saw it as quite superstitious.  It’s less superstition and more of just a routine for me now.  I used to call them superstitions, but I have carried almost all of them with me for the past several years now that it really is becoming a routine and just an everyday thing for me.  I really do have some crazy and funny superstitions.  However, on days where I might forget something, it won’t get to a point where it affects my one ice play.   It is almost like another way to push my game to another level because I feel I have to prove the “superstition” wrong.  So I would have to say I’m a pretty superstitious guy if one didn't know me.  My team and fans as well could probably agree that it’s almost like another side of me when it comes to something like this!

 

5.  Being a gear store, we are well aware that all athletes are different with how they choose their gear… Which piece of equipment are you the pickiest about when playing and why? 

Growing up over the years it sure has changed in what equipment I am pickiest about.  Starting out, when it didn’t even matter what you wore, to now having sponsors for equipment and having it profiled to meet my (and other athlete's) needs. I can’t pick just one here so I’d have to go with skates and shoulder pads.  With today’s technology in building skates, players can get their full output and power within their stride.  I like my skates to have a solid and comfortable fit.  I have wide feet, so I go with a wider boot.  I get my blades profiled at an 11’ radius and ¾ skate sharpening, which allows me to stay on top of the ice more and not dig into the ice, thus keeping my stride quick and powerful.  I recently got a pair of the new TotalOne NXG skates.  I went up from the previous TotalOne’s as it is a skate that I can literally put on and go.  I do, however, also get my skates molded so it gives me that nice tight and comfortable fit on my feet.  Another piece of equipment I’m picky about is my shoulder pads.  I like the smaller, tighter fit when it comes to shoulder pads.  I don’t like them bulky and that’s why I wore the Bauer Vapor XXXX shoulder pads this past year.  I have looked into new pads for the upcoming season and I like the new Bauer Nexus shoulder pad model that Bauer is bringing along.  It’s a nice, snug fit that isn’t too bulky at all.  It’s like a blast from the past, too, with the colours and the way it’s designed.  It looks like the new equipment is bringing back styles that were in the older days of hockey and it’s really starting to grow on young athletes and even the pros.

 

6.  We assume you live with a host family during the season – what is it like adjusting to that type of situation?

Yes, I live with a housing family back in Sioux Falls.  Usually for the first day and night it’s a little different from what you have back home.  You get the tour of the house, the rundown of the rules and you usually meet your roommate and siblings for the season.  I can say from experience it has been fantastic.  Other players should be so lucky to get billet parents like mine.  You have to go into it with an open mind and be open and accepting towards the family as they are of you.  They’re doing what they’re doing because they love to take players in and they do a great job at it.  I was fortunate to live with a housing family this past year who always went above and beyond.  They were always there for my roommate and I, cooking us 3 meals a day and much more.  When they had to work overtime or when they wouldn’t be home for dinner, they would have something cooking up for us in the oven when we got home from hockey and workouts.  I think it’s great for hockey players that get a chance to live with a housing family.  I think it gives us the opportunity to learn different values and life lessons that build and shape who we are as people.  It’s a great learning curve for young athletes - they want you to succeed just as much as your real parents do.  They’re only going to assist you along into your journey and future endeavours!



0 Comments Posted at 07:00AM on 06/19/2012

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Thursday, July 07, 2011
Pure GOALIE Interview: Rob Howland

Today Pure Goalie has hijacked the Pure Hockey blog to interview the Senior Buyer of Pure Hockey (and Pure Goalie), Rob Howland. Rob has been with Pure Hockey since its inception in 1994, so he's pretty much seen it all, from the stores to the arenas to the corporate office. His knowledge of gear is second-to-none! Rob grew up in Massachusetts and was a goaltender for the University of Maine in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when the Black Bears had a dominant presence on the college hockey scene. Let's go for a ride as Rob talks about the opening of the brand new Pure Goalie stores in Berlin and Braintree, MA......

1. So…..why a Pure Goalie store? Why now?
It was time – time to show to our goalie customers that we are back in the goalie business.  There is no question that Pure Hockey took some time off and left some goalies without a great local store to shop at.  It was time to bring it back for them 

2. How will this be different than the goalie sections at Pure Hockey before?
The Pure Goalie stores are going to be exactly that – nothing but goalie.  The first real Pure Goalie concept store is now open in Braintree, MA.  There is over 4,000 square feet of only goalie products, and we were fortunate enough  to team up with the leaders in the industry, Reebok, Bauer, Vaughn, and Brians to bring this idea to fruition.  It will be a place that goalies will just want to hang out, and the best part is that there are many more ideas that we have to make the experience even better – so keep an eye out.  The Pure Goalie stores will be filled with all the latest products,  a massive amount of inventory and will have a huge array of colors to choose from.  There will also be some products that will be exclusive to Pure Hockey - products that we made some modifications to in order to try and improve what already exists – and if there is something that the customer is looking for, we would be happy to hear their ideas.

3. As a goalie yourself, talk about how much has changed on the gear side for goalies since the ‘80s and even the ‘90s
hen I was playing, the products lacked a lot of protection, and everything was so heavy compared to today.  Growing up, my chest protector was only that, a chest protector, and I had separate arm pads.  My pads were filled with deer hair, and other stuffing, and they were water logged after each game.  It wasn’t until I got to college in the late 80’s/early 90’s that the equipment started to get to where it is today.  Even colors weren’t around when I was younger, it was what everyone calls "vintage" now - and that was the choice.  With today's game, the products are bigger, lighter and in most cases more flexible. 

4. What’s the last thing you laughed really hard at?
Everyday with my kids, especially my 2 year old daughter – she cracks me up with some of the things she will come out with

5. As a buyer, what do you consider to be the driving  factors in what goalie gear Pure Hockey decides to carry?
First of all is the product, does it have shelf appeal – is it cool looking?  Does it have the features that it needs for the price points that we sell it for, is the quality of the product where it needs to be, and if it is not, can we change it to make it better?  I look at prices of the products, I look at history of certain products and vendors.  I travel to the manufactures to see how things are put together, and that gives me a better appreciation of what actually goes into making a pair of pads.  I ask our goalie employees their opinions and to get their ideas on trends.  I am in rinks most of the winter with a 7 year-old playing and I watch what people are wearing and I ask questions.  There are so many factors that go into it, but ultimately, the most important one is – will it sell??

6. Tell an interesting, amusing or memorable story about your days as a goalie at UMaine
I think for me, a kid coming out of a small town in Central Massachusetts, then going to a school that, at the time, was ranked continuously in the top 5 in the country, walking on to  the team, being around such talent, going to practice everyday and playing with those guys was amazing.  I was a fan of the team, and then I am part of the team and skating onto that ice, coming out for games and how loud the Alfond Arena was, it was just crazy.  The fans up there were the best, the place was always sold out and teams hated coming up there.  So here's a story: during my sophomore year we were heading out the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN, playing in the rink which at the time had those glass boards and the glass went all the way down to the ice, remember that place?  It was a rink that I always wanted to see and to skate in, and we were heading there!  On the way out to Minnesota, we had stops first in Manchester, NH, and then to Chicago, then on to Minnesota.  On the way out, I started feeling like crap – my stomach was killing me, to the point that I could no longer sit, so I just stood up in the back, bent over.  We finally landed in Chicago, where they had a wheelchair waiting for me. So they wheeled me down to where our connecting flight was  and I remember Coach Walsh yelling at the flight attendant that they gave me food poisoning, but I had to tell him that I did not eat anything on the plane.  They wheeled me down the walkway, where an ambulance was waiting and we went to a Chicago hospital while the team flew to Minnesota.  The next day I had my appendix removed, spent two days in the hospital and flew to meet the team in Minnesota. The problem was I met them at the airport there because they had lost to Northern Michigan the night before and I never did get to see that rink – which since then has been torn down.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 07/07/2011

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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Pure Hockey Interview: David Steckel, New Jersey Devils

In the latest version of the Pure Hockey Interview, we run New Jersey Devils forward David Steckel through the rapid-fire questions we've been asking many other NHL players. Steckel kicked off his career in 2005-2006 with the Washington Capitals, where he stayed for six seasons before being moved to the New Jersey Devils in the Jason Arnott deal during the 2010-2011 season. Steckel is a face-off specialist and terrific penalty killer, born in Wisconsin. And away we go.....


1. The people who play professional sports very often get cast as the people who truly "have it made." Good money, playing a game for a living, etc etc. I always think there's more to the story, though. The travel must get old pretty quick, for example. What's the most difficult or trying thing for you as a professional athlete?

I think the most difficult thing about being a professional athlete is being away from your family.  I mean the travel does wear on you, but you grow accustomed to it.  It's when you come home from a long road trip for one or two days and then leave again for four.  Now that I have a little girl I think it will be even tougher.

2. Could you tell us what your favorite or most meaningful goal was (one that was scored by you)?

It was my OT game winner against the Penguins in Game 6 of the 09' playoffs.

3. The Devils have been so good for so long, so it must be odd for you and the organization to have missed out on the playoffs. Have you watched any of the playoffs as a fan or does it sting so much that you focus on other things?

I definitely watch as many games as I can.  It's hard not too when you play against and know so many guys in them.  Plus, it makes you strive harder in the offseason so you're being the one watched next year.

4. With that said, the Devils put together a historic run in the second half of the season. Obviously it gives you hope for 2011-12, but can you describe what it was like for you to experience such a dominating run of games like that?

Those kind of runs don't happen often, so to be a part of that was special.  And like you said, when we translate that confidence and winning mentality into next year, it will be even more gratifying.

5. What is the last thing you laughed really hard at?

The entire movie, The Hangover, for the 20th time.

6. The move of the Thrashers to Winnipeg seems really exciting. There’s no danger of the Devils moving, but how do you think you would feel if you had to move from not just a different climate, but to an entirely different country?

I think it would feel like you are getting traded, except with your entire team.  I think there would be an adjustment period in the beginning, but like any good thing you settle down and get into a rhythm.

7. Who is the toughest player you know? I don't mean fighting, I mean what teammate or player you know is THE guy who would get hit by a truck in the afternoon and be in the lineup that night?

Quintin Laing.

8. Since we're a gear store, we have to ask a few gear questions. There are lots of NHL players who are VERY particular about their gear. How do you approach it? Are you more the type who just sticks with one set of pads until they're absolutely dead? Or do you always like trying different stuff or the hot new stuff?

I am usually a guy that sticks with equipment until the trainers tell me it's just not safe anymore.  I am always open to trying new equipment, but at the same time it better feel great and quick.

9. What stick, glove and skates do you currently use?

I use Easton sticks and gloves,  Bauer skates.

10. How do you think gear has evolved since you played as a child?

It's definitely gotten stronger, but lighter and a little more bulky.

11. Can you describe one specific memory (amusing, reflective, whatever) of your first NHL game that you will never forget?

I took a face-off against Peter Forsberg (Philly), was in shock and awe that I was lining up opposite him and don't even think I got my stick down to the ice before the draw was snapped back and they were heading up the ice. 



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 06/16/2011

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
NHL Player Interview: Hal Gill, Montreal Canadiens



Starting last year in the NHL offseason, we did a bunch of cool interviews with NHL Players, equipment managers and scouts. Now that we're more or less in the offseason again, we're bringing that feature back. Today's interview is with Hal Gill, currently a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens (or defencemen, depending on where you're from). Gill broke into the NHL in the 1996-97 season with Boston and has carved out a pretty nice 14 year hockey career for himself, with stops in Toronto, Pittsburgh (where he won a Cup) and now Montreal. Gill was recruited to college for both hockey and football, as his size (6'7) and talent in football was coveted by a lot of football programs out there. Gill obviously chose hockey. Good choice, we say. And we're off.....

1. The people who play professional sports very often get cast as the people who truly "have it made." Good money, playing a game for a living, etc etc. I always think there's more to the story, though. The travel must get old pretty quick, for example. What's the most difficult or trying thing for you as a professional athlete?

The grind is the hardest part. We have a few long trips a year, but the hard ones are the quick trips that include back-to-back games. When the schedule gets like that - even when you are home - it feels like all you do is sleep, eat and play games.

2. We can safely assume that the single most satisfying moment of your career was winning the Cup. But can you tell us what your favorite or most meaningful goal was (one that was scored by you)?

I honestly can't think of one. I guess I should score more, but most good memories I have are of a blocked shot or something.

3. OK, let's get back to the Cup. You got to hang out with it for a while. Do anything interesting? I don't mean photo opps in public, man,  I mean like at your house. Did you put it on the nightstand while you were sleeping or something? I'd never let it get outside 3 feet of me if I had it at my house.

I did sleep with it!!! I mostly drank from it, though. My daughters ate ice cream  and cereal from it. That was fun.

4. What is the last thing you laughed really hard at?

Everyday my daughters say something that cracks me up. I laugh a lot anyway, though.

5. Growing up in Massachusetts, I assume you were a Bruins fan. Playing for them must have been wild. But what was it like the first time you played against them? Was it weird? Not only are you playing the team you grew up cheering for, but there's a ton of guys there that you KNOW. Was that an odd game for you?

It's always fun playing the B's. I know all of my family and friends are watching so that's nice. Almost all of the guys that I played with have moved on as well.

6. Your path to the NHL wasn't entirely normal (though by no means abnormal, either). Is there one person you can point to in your career as a person who was instrumental in really turning you into an NHL-caliber player?

I should thank all my coaches that I had growing up but my mother was always the one pushing me to be better. The NHL was where Pat Burns and Jacques Laperierre really worked hard with me.

7. Who is the toughest player you know? I don't mean fighting, I mean what teammate or player you know is THE guy who would get hit by a truck in the afternoon and be in the lineup that night?

There are so many that I have played with. Rob Dimaio was nails. I play with Travis Moen now - he almost cut half of his face off with a skate and made it for the next game. That's nails!

7. Since we're a gear store, we have to ask a few gear questions. There are lots of NHL players who are VERY particular about their gear. How do you approach it? Are you more the type who just sticks with one set of pads until they're absolutely dead? Or do you always like trying different stuff or the hot new stuff?

I use the same stuff until it gets beat up. I use three pairs of gloves per game so I like to have new ones all the time.

8. How do you think gear has evolved since you played as a child?

It's crazy how light things are now. That's the biggest difference

9. What stick, glove and skates do you currently use?
I use Bauer for everything

10. I have to ask you about this past Boston-Montreal series. Was it as nerve-wracking for you as a player as it was for the fans of both cities? Or do you feel that players kind of get numb to the pressure of the playoffs after they've been in them for enough years? It's probably different for every player based on their personality, but I'm curious about your observations and feelings as that series went on.

I love the playoffs because every play could be the difference. Every game feels like playing 3 regular season games. There is more pain and you get exhausted but win or lose there is another game. Win or go home. That's fun hockey.


Big thanks to Hall Gill for participating.......good times.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/25/2011

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Saturday, May 07, 2011
Five Questions: Scott Young, NHL Player

Today we interview Scott Young, an NHL’er who spent nearly 20 years in the league, winning two Stanley Cups and playing in the Olympics on two occasions, in 1988 and 1992. Young was a first round pick of the Whalers (11th overall) and made his debut with the Hartford Whalers during the 87-88 season (Brass Bonanza playing in my head now!). He played the following two-and-a-half seasons with the Whalers before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Young helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 1991.

In 1991, Young was traded by the Penguins to the Quebec Nordiques. He played 3 seasons with the Nordiques and remained on the team when they moved to Colorado and became the Colorado Avalanche. He played 2 seasons with the Avalanche and won his second Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 1996. In the following years, Young played with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars. The best season of his NHL career was during the 2000–2001 season with the Blues, scoring 40 goals and adding 33 assists for 73 points. Young retired from hockey after the 2005-2006 season, finishing his career with 1181 career NHL games, 342 goals and 414 assists for 756 points.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

I’ve always wondered about that first year after retirement for NHL’ers. It must be a hell of an adjustment. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but what about you – was it hard to watch hockey? What kind of mental adjustments did you have to make?

I helped coach my 2 boys youth hockey teams after retiring, which kept me at the rinks and really busy. This made the transition easier. I didn’t have time to watch a lot of hockey on TV, but the thing that brought back all those memories of playing was watching the game live. Until this day, being at the game and knowing what the players are going through makes me miss playing hockey. Mentally I think about the committment a player has to make every day to prepare his body and mind to play the game, and realize I was very fortunate to play for such a long time.

Is it possible to put into words the feeling you had when you played your first NHL game? Do you remember any one moment specifically?

My first game was in the old Chicago Stadium. I remember having to climb the stairs from the locker room in our skates to get to the ice. I remember Ron Francis and the rest of my teammates wishing me luck before the game, and warning me about how loud the National Anthem was in Chicago. The best memory was standing on the bench as the crowd cheered through the Anthem, which Chicago is known for, and the adrenaline rush that it gave me.

What was your most memorable goal as an NHL’er?

My first goal with the Whalers against Patrick Roy and the Canadiens in the playoffs. Also scoring in double OT against Roy and the Avalanche when I played with the Blues in game 3 of the conference finals.

Pure Hockey Note: here’s the video of that goal, fast forward to the 3:55 mark.



Since we’re an equipment retailer, I have to ask a couple of nerdy equipment questions. Here’s my first one: your first full year in the league was 88-89. How did equipment – for you – evolve from then through to 2005-2006, your last year?

The biggest change thru my career with equipment had to be sticks. I used a wood stick, then aluminum shaft with a wood blade, then aluminum shaft with a graphite blade, and finally the one-piece composite. I played as it evolved to what it is today. I love the weight and consistency of sticks these days.

Interesting. Did you stick with one brand for skates through your career? Sticks?

Although skates became much lighter over the years I stayed with my old Bauers with the ICM blades. Never changed. I used the old white Canadien sticks early on. After that I went with Easton – until Warrior made me a stick during my last season.

What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?

Hockey related – when I played I’d have to say on the plane and bus rides. Guys like Marc Bergevin and Doug Weight would have the back of the plane/bus laughing all the time.

What are you up to now? Are you still involved with hockey at all these days (playing, coaching, parents to young player, etc)?

I am involved in coaching with my two boys and also run a few hockey camps with Jeff Serowik and ProAmbitions. I’ve also been looking into the construction of a new rink in my area for a number of years. I skate at BU once a week and also with the Bruins Alumni team during the winter.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/07/2011

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Sunday, May 01, 2011
Five Questions: Mike Commodore, NHL Player (Columbus, Carolina)

Our entrance into the world of blogging starts off with a bit of a bang! We managed to snag an interview with Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore. Mike is a nine-year NHL veteran who played his first game with the New Jersey Devils during the 2000-2001 season. Mike has also had stops with the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and most notably, with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2006. Many may remember him during that 2006 run for his outstanding playoff beard and the afro that took him one year to mold into the absolute masterpiece that it was.  Mike has made Columbus his home for the last two seasons, settling into his role as a sturdy defensive veteran. We’re totally psyched that Mike agreed to a Pure Hockey interrogation. Here we go:

You must still get all kinds of questions about the hair and beard from the ’06 run. Was that thing a nightmare to maintain or did you just feel incredibly liberated and let it run free every day?

I still do get a lot of questions about the hair and beard!  I didn’t mind growing the beard during the playoffs at all, I kind of liked it.  The hair was a year long adventure, and I didn’t do anything to maintain it other then wash it. I would say it only became a bit of a nightmare once the temperature got to 90 degrees and hotter in Carolina….then it was a constant battle to stay cool.

Obviously NHL players are compensated well. I always wondered – does the league and/or teams give the really young guys any guidance or access to money experts to help them along so they don’t spend it all on Red Bull and Enron stock? Was it really odd for you when you started in the NHL to go from nothing to……more than nothing?

The NHL doesn’t give any guidance, but the NHLPA is always available to help out in any way they can.  I would say most of the guidance on financial matters usually ends up being the responsibility of the player and his agent.  Lots of agencies these days offer “full service,” meaning that they offer access to money experts.  In my case, I found my financial advisor on my own.

Going from not much money to having money is an adjustment, especially when you’re young.  In my case I went from having next to nothing in college to having some.  I’ll admit it was a nice change.  But you need to learn fast how to handle your money.  With more money comes more bills and more responsibility – some guys learn quicker then others.

Aside from the real marquee, huge NHL superstars, which lesser known player or players do you have the hardest time defending against?

The first name that comes to mind for me is Dustin Brown from LA.  There are others though for sure.  The NHL is the best hockey league in the world, so no one is easy to handle.

I always wonder about all “other stuff” associated with being a professional athlete – for example, are there times, now that you’re a few years into your career, when the travel or rigor of life off the ice gets overwhelming? Or is that trumped by hanging out with teammates, etc?

Life as a professional athlete can be overwhelming at times.  Obviously it’s a great profession and it’s worth the hardship – and I’m going to do it as long as I can.  Travel can get a little tough.  Especially in the Western Conference.  There is a huge difference between playing in the East and the West travel-wise.  It’s a lot more demanding in the West.  Playing in Columbus can be tough because although we are in the Eastern Time Zone, we play most of your games in other time zones.  Trips can get long, especially when you’re flying from the west coast back to Columbus.  Another area of professional sports that is demanding is being traded.  I’ve been traded 4 times in 10 years….sometimes it’s hard up-rooting your life and moving to a new city.  I couldn’t even imagine doing it with a family.  It’s a big reason why I’m single.

What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

Tough question!  I laugh all the time.  But some recent laughs….I just went to the Kentucky Derby with a great buddy of mine that I played college hockey with…Matt Henderson…we had some good laughs….and I just watched “Chris Rock….Never Scared” on HBO and I laughed my ass off….black comedy is the best.

[Pure Hockey note: yes, we ask ALL the tough questions!]

Given we’re a hockey retailer, I have to ask – what are the skates and stick of choice for you?

I wear Bauer skates, and I use Easton sticks.

BIG thanks to Mike Commodore for taking the time to rap with us. We really appreciate it. Stay tuned for more interviews and information as we ramp up our blogging efforts.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/01/2011

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