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.
Coming Soon: Pure Goalie
It's pretty exciting to be working for Pure Hockey these days. This summer we'll have a rapid-fire series of announcements and promotions that will (hopefully) blow the doors off the hockey retail business! As you know, we launched this brand new website last week and we've already announced the first of a few exclusive lines of product - more on those things later. It's just a few things we'll be rolling out.....stay tuned, of course.
Today's post is about a new store launch coming in July. You see, we love goalies. Why do we love them? Because they are crazy, that's why. I mean, really, how many sane people would step in front of hard, vulcanized rubber traveling at the speed of approx 85-100mph? Not many. We loves the crazy people and goalies most definitely qualify.
So, we thought, why not launch two goalie stores? Of course! As of now, our Berlin and Braintree locations carry lots of goalie gear, but we're taking it one-step further. We're expanding the amount of gear we carry, expanding the goalie staff and expanding the square footage to accommodate a nicer experience for goalies. We're talking about thousands of square feet of goalie gear. It's called Pure Goalie and it will be a dream come true for goalies, because NOBODY will do it like we're gonna do it. You'll be hard-pressed to find a similar goalie store anywhere in the world if this thing turns out like I've seen the drawings.
So goalies, we love you. And we hope when the stores open in July, you'll love us. Facebook page is brand hew and can be found here. Like us, won't you?
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.
Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself
Eventually this blog will have posts by a lot of people who work for Pure Hockey. Right now, it’s only me, so I thought it would make some sense to introduce myself. My name is Jeff. They call me the VP of Marketing and E-Commerce for the company, but the truth is that I’m a lifetime hockey player and fanatic who also happens to be a total internet/e-commerce nerd. This job is the best of both worlds.
Anyway, given I have all these outlets now to speak with you customers, who are our lifeblood, I plan to have a lot of fun here. Sometimes we’ll be informative, sometimes we’ll be totally goofy, but we’ll always be interesting. I was thinking on the drive to work here this morning about my hockey history. I’ve been playing since I was four years old. Back in the ’80s, when I was visiting rinks every weekend in head-spinning fashion, I got to be a part of some very memorable hockey games. I then started trying to figure out what my most memorable single youth hockey game was. It was a difficult task. Youth hockey and high school hockey, if you’ve played it, is an incredible amount of fun. Any team sport is, I suppose. The camraderie and the memories are invaluable, but also good learning tools, in retrospect. You can apply the teamwork and culture you learn from playing youth sports into your professional life.
Anyway, before I start getting all misty-eyed about days gone by, let’s get back to the topic at hand – my most memorable hockey game. It happened in Westborough, Massachusetts, at the North Star Youth Forum. I was playing Pee-Wee Selects one Saturday afternoon and we ran up against Wilbraham, MA I believe. I’m pretty sure Bill Guerin was on that Wilbraham team. They were always good and beat us regularly and this game was no different. They came out flying and by the mid-point of the game, it was 7-1 Wilbraham. I was pretty fed up with it. At the center face-off dot after their 7th goal, I told the ref “we are going to win this game.” He laughed.
I was right. We won 9-8. After the game, the referee was amazed that I had actually called it. It was something I never usually do, but I just had a feeling. The great memory wasn’t predicting it, though, it was the feeling we shared as a team when coming back and finally winning it like we did. I don’t even remember how many goals or assists I got. You see? My greatest memory isn’t something I did, it’s something our team did. That’s why team sports are so satisfying and educational, as I look back.
What is your greatest hockey memory?
Five Questions: Dale Arnold, NHL Broadcaster
Time for another installment of “Five Questions,” where we ask a hockey personality a bunch of questions that hopefully shed some light on the world of hockey behind the scenes. Sometimes we’ll ask more than five questions. Why call it “Five Questions” then, you ask? Well, it’s our blog. We can do what we want. How’s that?!
Today’s interview is with Dale Arnold. If he hasn’t already, Dale Arnold is fast becoming a broadcasting legend, particularly in New England. A two time Emmy-Award winner, he currently handles the 10am-2pm slot along with Michael Holley on Boston’s WEEI 850 AM, one of the largest and most influential sports talk radio stations in the U.S. But that’s not all. Dale handled television play-by-play for the Boston Bruins on NESN from 1995-2007 and he is also the only person in the history of Boston sports to actually do play-by-play for ALL five major sports teams in the Boston area – Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Revolution. That’s a lot of work, people. Now, let’s get to the questions.
Talk radio is one of those professions that seems easy, but I sense it isn’t at all. What are the material differences between talk radio and calling play-by-play?
I have always joked that they had to pay me to do the day job (talk radio), but that I would do the night job (play-by-play) for free. That has more to do with simple enjoyment than it does the ease or difficulty of either job. I have always found that preparation is basically the same for both jobs — and preparation is easily the most important part of doing any job properly. But once a game begins (in any sport) I’ve always found the play-by-play part to be very easy. It becomes basically a case of “see-it-say-it.” Talk radio requires much more deliberation and consideration, and circumspection before elocution. In other words — on talk radio, engage brain before opening mouth, and in play-by-play, let ‘er rip!
You called Bruins games for NESN during a rather tenuous era in Bruins history. What single event was the high for you….and the low?
It’s hard to single out individual games, either good or bad. I remember chaotic playoff matchups against the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens that were top-of-the-list for excitement. The low spot might also be the most memorable, however — the night Ray Bourque played his last game ever for the Bruins, and I described him picking up the game puck at the final horn, knowing full well why he had done it, and why it meant so much to him.
Your daughter worked at one of our stores for a while. For you as a parent, I suspect that ranks right up there with her birth and graduations, right?
While it is true that my daughter, Alysha, worked for Pure Hockey, and would do so again, we actually had a family-wide connection with the company. When Alysha was playing high school at Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Pure Hockey helped me design and order new game sweaters for the program. We bought home sweaters her sophomore year, road sweaters her junior year and then team sweat suits her senior year. Pure Hockey helped make sure that “The Mount” had the best-dressed girls high school hockey team in New England!
You are the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Did you ever imagine? When you were a kid, is this where you thought you would be as an adult?
When I was growing up in Maine my primary career goal was to replace Fred Lynn as centerfield for the Boston Red Sox. When it became clear that was not going to happen, my goal changed to becoming a major league play-by-play announcer. More than anything else, I wanted to someday be the play-by-play voice of the Boston Bruins. I am so grateful that I was able to accomplish that goal, and spent 13 wonderful years calling those games. I NEVER imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would become the only person in Boston sports history to call at least one game for each of the five teams in town (Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Revolution). Sports talk radio didn’t exist when I was growing up, so this current career path never entered my mind, but doing games for the five teams was more than I could have ever imagined.
What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know that the last time I laughed really hard was during a recent family picnic at something that my youngest brother, David, said. He would be some much better at this talk radio thing than me because he’s the funniest person I know. If anything he told me was clean enough I would steal it for the radio, and proudly claim it for my own, but unfortunately nearly everything that Dave says that makes me laugh has to stay between us.
Let’s reverse roles – why don’t you ask us a question?
My question for you is — do you really think the composite stick revolution is a good thing? Old time hockey players (like Bobby Orr, to drop a name) have told me they still much prefer the wooden sticks to the new composite sticks, and like any fan, I hate to see a stick explode like it did to Dennis Wideman during the Flyers series. Is composite really better and why?
After consultation with a few hockey experts here at Pure Hockey, here’s what we came up with: the main advantages for composite sticks are lighter weight, harder shot, consistency and durability (though Wideman probably disagreed with that last one as he was chasing Briere). Wood does break down faster, which means you’ll get a different, less effective shot off the blade in the waning days of a wood stick. That said, the price points are obviously in favor of wood, but it’s true about getting what you pay for.
Big thanks to Dale for putting up with us. Stay tuned for more, coming soon!
Five Questions: Mark Yanetti, Scout: Los Angeles Kings
Our next installment of our “Five Questions” series features Mark Yanetti, the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL. Mark is a lifetime player, hailing from Massachusetts. He started scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1999 and has been working in the Kings organization for five years running. His full bio from the Kings site is here. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride – this is a pretty revealing interview about true life as an amateur scout.
Who travels more, a player on the Los Angeles Kings, or you, the Director of Amateur Scouting?
Not even close – I do, a minimum of 4 European/Russia trips per year. Last year I spent well over 200 days in a hotel, not to mention days where I traveled to games but came home that night.
I always hear great debate about the whole “you need to have been a hockey player during your life sometime to be an effective scout” – what are your thoughts on that?
Is it absolutely necessary? No. But it does make a big difference – even scouts that have not played some form of pro hockey are at times behind those that did – it is nearly impossible to “tell” someone how tough playing hockey is. You have to live it – the travel and the absolute grind, especially in the minors. Very hard. Then there’s the fear factor and hardness of players & competition that cannot be described – there are so many subtleties involved. However, I do know more than a few scouts whom I consider exceptionally competent even though they have never played at this level or even a competitive level. The learning curve is usually very long however – those that do stick it out “earn” it in many of the same ways ex-players do. Starting at the very bottom and working your way up is long-frustrating and often under-appreciated, to say the least.
Other than viewing and judging talent, can you give the general hockey fan a better sense about what else scouts do that people may not realize?
Judging character…and not just the good old all-american boy whom you’d want your daughter to marry. Many times the things that make you a fierce competitor – single-minded and especially a winner – are not the traits of a good citizen. Sometimes they are, though. Without going into names, some of the players I’d want in the playoffs would not pass people’s OR societies test – its all about figuring out which flaws can be overcome and which cannot be overcome – and which you can live with. Sometimes the best talent doesn't equal the best player – actually quite often. Then there is the toughest part, which is projections – who will get better, who will hit their potential or whose potential is higher. So even though player A will be better than player B there are circumstances where I will choose player B because of intangibles – such as taking a hard, nasty physical defenseman over a more skilled wing because the defenseman are harder to find (although never bypassing a truly superior player).
What/who is your proudest discovery?
Drew Doughty is an obvious choice but there are so many others – the guys you haven't even heard of yet. Wayne Simmonds is another one – a kid that wasn’t even rated by central scouting when we drafted him and we, as an organization, took some flak for drafting as high as we did. But Wayne made our team just his second year after the draft and has even played on our first line – but as I said there are too many to name!
Is there an “emerging” area where hockey is really starting to take off that scouts are paying specific attention to?
Actually, California is developing quite a few players now, although the majority of them end up playing in the WHL when they are drafted, but it’s most definitely an emerging area.
What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
I have a slightly different sense of humor from society’s accepted norm. Sadly, the only things I can think of I just cant put down in writing.
Do you actually get to attend many NHL games?
Yes, but not as many as i would like because time just doesn’t permit it. I think NHL games are important for amateur scouts like myself to see. Seeing the pace, the skill and how hard it is to play at that level is important. It’s especially good to see the players we have scouted previously that have ”made it” from the amatuer ranks. I have done 5 years of pro scouting as well before this, where the NHL and AHL were my sole responsibilities so I did get to see quite a few playoff games in Manchester, NH, where our AHL team made the conference finals – not quite the same but you take what you can get!
What is the best and worst part about your job?
The best part is the guys I work with. It is the closet thing to a team atmosphere since I stopped playing. This isn't always the case, though – the group Dean Lombardi (GM of the Kings) has put together is truly special. It’s corny, I know, but I do really believe it. The fact that we have gotten the opportunity to build something from the ground up – I love that challenge. You don't get that chance to make a team/organization truly in the mold you envision, although we are not there yet!! The worst is that the travel is pretty tough. Everyone always says “wow, you get to travel for a living and watch hockey!” but it’s really no fun. I had a trip last year where I was home only 1 day in all of February, with connections and delays and weather cancellations, I flew 20 different segments and the warmest place I stayed was Winnepeg! I don’t have children so I can’t understand what it is like for my colleagues that try to balance this job and a family. It often doesn't work.
Huge thanks to Mark for a terrific interview. If you don’t think the Kings are on the right track, just watch them over the next couple of seasons, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with!
Five Questions: Paul Boyer, Equipment Manager: Detroit Red Wings
Today’s installment of “Five Questions” brings us Paul Boyer, the Head Equipment Manager for the Detroit Red Wings. Our good friends at Warrior Hockey somehow convinced Paul to subject himself to our line of questioning, so big props to Warrior for helping us out on this one. Paul is in his 16th season as equipment manager after joining the Wings in the 1994-95 season after two seasons with the New Jersey Devils. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Paul earned a bachelor of science degree from Lake Superior State University in Michigan, then spent five years as the school’s hockey trainer before heading to the National Hockey League. Paul was also selected to work the 2002 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles and is currently in his third term as president of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM). This is a busy dude, people!
Lots of people probably ask you this, but how did you make it into the NHL?
Being at the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Finals with Lake Superior State, I was able to meet and get to know some of the vendors that cover both NHL and NCAA teams. The late Ray Jones, who was with Bauer at the time, previously worked with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate and still had strong ties to that team. He called me and let me know that the Devils were looking for an Assistant Equipment Manager and thought I should send my resume to them. I was hired a few weeks later, spent one season (93-94) in Jersey and really learned the NHL. I headed back to the Devils for a second season and then got a call in late August from then Athletic Trainer John Wharton from the Red Wings letting me know that the Head Equipment Job was open.
Tell me the best and worst part of your job, in all its glorious and un-glorious detail!
Best part is working with so many great people, players and staff alike. I have made so many friends over the years. The worst part is being away from my family and missing all of the social and sporting events that my family does throughout the season.
Those Lake Superior teams in the early ‘90s were dominant! I know because I did play-by-play for Kent State back then and saw it first-hand. Rolston, Lacher, Beddoes, Valicevic, Alvey – a good group there. How does managing a D1/CCHA team vs. an NHL team compare?
At LSSU, I was not responsible for any of the purchasing. My good friend and mentor Gil Somes ran the Equipment Room for the entire Athletic Dept. With the Red Wings, I am responsible for all of the purchases as well as the day to day of our locker room. I also have two Assistants that work with me. At the end of the day, the jobs are very similar, there is just more responsibility in the NHL.
Equipment manager seems like a vast term. Is there a role in your job that a lot of people say “you have to do THAT, too?”
Myself and my assistants are responsible for the day to day operations of what needs to be done in the locker room. Besides the traditional duties of skate sharpening and equipment maintenance, I am responsible for the purchasing of all supplies (except medical supplies) that we need on a daily basis. Purchases of skates, gloves, toiletries, towels, coffee, etc – all fall under the Equipment Manager’s umbrella. We are also responsible for making sure that the locker room is ready on a daily basis. That includes coordinating cleaning after practices, changing light bulbs qne making sure the heating and cooling are operating properly. The home team is also responsible for providing service to the visiting team when they are in town. The home team is responsible for doing the laundry and towels the visitors use, too. We are also responsible for supplying everything they need as well, coffee, towels, toiletries and tape – just to name a few. Equipment Managers also assist the travel coordinator in giving advice on which rinks to skate at on the road if the game rinks are not available. The home team is responsible for pickup and delivery of the visitors equipment to and from the airport. This is the job of one of the assistants.
Tell us more about your role as president of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM) – what does that entail?
One of the main tasks is to help coordinate the annual meetings with the Project Manager (Anita Ramsay), the President of PHATS, (Ray Tufts, San Jose Sharks) and the Executive Committees. We have to make sure that all of the booths are sold to the vendors who wish to exhibit their goods. We coordinate the Hall Of Fame dinner as well as make sure the various committees are following through annually on fulfilling their tasks so as a group we can move forward. The President listens to suggestions that members bring forward all season long and sets the topics and agenda that will be discussed and voted on by the membership. The President also acts as a point person for the NHL if it needs any special requests carried out such as compiling equipment specific data that may be used to give the league a better idea of what players are wearing and doing.
What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
During the second TV break of Game 4 in the San Jose series, Jimmy Howard looked at me, smiled, and said, “I need an oil change!”
Given we’re a large hockey retailer, we have to ask: what brand skate and what brand stick will you find most on the Detroit bench?
Our players use mostly Bauer skates, both the Vapor 60 and the new TotalOne. Sticks are scattered. There really is not a dominant stick that the majority of the players use. We are spread out among the major brands. I chalk it up to good relationships between sales reps and the players.
Big thanks to Paul Boyer for taking the time to chat with us. Stick around on our blog for more great interviews! Bookmark us, subscribe, RSS, XML, BLAH, etc etc. Also, an extra big thanks to Warrior for helping us line up Paul for the interview. Those new Bully gloves will be in our stores soon and we will be carrying the most color variations out there – and there are some sweet ones!
The Worthless Miracle of Modern Technology
So a couple of us are here in Chicago for an internet conference this week. As luck would have it, the Stanley Cup Finals are (or were, I should say) not in Chicago while we are here, but it’s still fun to be in the city when the local hockey team is still playing in June. Anyway, we wanted to catch the game somewhere, so we went down to our hotel bar/pub, where they had some nice, huge windows overlooking the Chicago skyline and several rather monstrous televisions. There was a good crowd there, partaking in the spirits and watching the game.
We made it for two periods before both us decided to head to our rooms out of exhaustion. I put the game in, got in some work, and settled in for the last 5 minutes of the game. Of course, I don’t need to explain who won or what happened, but as the clock wound down in the 3rd period with the game tied 3-3, the Flyers were really putting pressure on Chicago. Niemi made a HUGE save there with about a minute left and then……..BLANK. My screen goes grey. Then blue. Then black. Nothing. Internal panic ensues! Did I miss a late goal? How can this be possible?
EVERY station worked except for NBC, the one showing the hockey game. Was the WHOLE CITY out? That might have been ugly. I pictured true rioting. All was good, though. I rushed back downstairs and saw it went to overtime. Then I saw that everyone in the hotel also rushed downstairs to see it went to overtime. So we all sat on floors, against bannisters, on railings, anywhere really. We all watched it together. With all the noise, we didn’t know Kane had scored until about 10 seconds after he actually scored because it was kind of an odd goal. But it was fun to watch with the locals.
And DirectTV, you suck!
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.
Hockey Stick Warranties
Often time, there is much confusion around the issue of stick warranties. Hey, it totally sucks when you buy a $200 composite stick and the thing breaks on your third damn shift! We get it. We sympathize. No really, we do. Most of the guys and gals who work in our stores are hockey players, too. So what’s a person to do when this happens? First, say a bad word. Get creative.
The next step, after you’ve calmed down, is where we hear a lot of frustration.
The hockey equipment industry is a very interesting place to hang your hat every day. There is a lot controlled by the vendors (i.e., Reebok, Bauer, CCM, etc) and sticks are one of those things. We’ll discuss some of the other stuff in a later blog post, but for now let’s keep things focused on sticks. When you buy a composite stick, it has two identical stickers on it. One of those stickers is easily removed – our cashiers remove that sticker from the stick and stick it right onto your receipt. So keep that receipt! If your stick breaks, that receipt is gold! OK, it’s not gold – but it’s essential for your mental well-being.
Now, if the stick breaks within 30 days of purchase, you will need to call the customer service number for the applicable vendor (phone numbers are provided here) and it is your responsibility to ship it back to the vendor for refund or replacement. Just to be clear – we at Pure Hockey do not set the guidelines for this – those are guidelines handed down by vendors. You may now be asking what happens if your stick breaks on the 31st day? Well, to be honest there isn’t much you can do there. The vendor policy is 30 days and there isn’t anything we can do with a 30+ day old stick. Again, it’s frustrating. Luckily, the sticks these days are quality sticks and are not breaking like wood sticks did, so your odds are very very good with your composite. We see very very little 30+ day stick returns, so that’s encouraging and tells us the quality is there.
We are, of course, always open to hearing any new, constructive ideas from our customers about how to handle such things, but we’ve actually found this to be a pretty decent set of policies. Thoughts?
Five Questions: John Torchetti, Stanley Cup Champ
Our latest installment of Five Questions is an interview with the Associate Head Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, John Torchetti. John just joined the Thrashers for the upcoming 2010-2011, after being the Assistant for three years and winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks this past season. Torchetti’s coaching resumé includes time in the East Coast Hockey League, Central Hockey League, International Hockey League, the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. He has twice been named Coach of the Year, first with the CHL’s San Antonio Iguanas in 1994-95, then with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL in 1997-98.
Torchetti’s NHL resumé includes time with Tampa Bay (1999-00 to 2000-01), Florida (2002-03 to 2003-04) and Los Angeles (2005-06). He was asked to serve as interim head coach at the conclusion of the 2003-04 while he was an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers, posting a record of 10-12-4-1 in 27 games behind the bench. He was also brought in with 12 games left in the 2005-06 to serve as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings posting a record of 5-7-0.
Torchetti’s playing career spanned eight seasons as a left winger in professional hockey in the Atlantic Coast League, ECHL and AHL. Throughout his playing career, he enjoyed seven appearances in the finals while winning four championships.
Here we go……
1. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I overhear saying things like “summers off!” about pro hockey players and coaches in general. Like you guys are school teachers or something! Can you set the record straight about how much work actually gets done in a hockey offseason by a coach and his staff?
Since June 9th we stayed in town and celebrated our championship and then we prepared to go to the draft in L.A, June 24th – June 27th. One of those days was a NHL coaching seminar. Development camp starts for us July 7th – July 14th where we bring in our draft picks and prospects to teach skills and skating. We also teach our players on how to train on and off the ice and the value of nutrition. Myself over the rest of the summer I teach clinics on ice instruction about 2-3 camps.
2. Will you do anything unique with the Stanley Cup when it’s your turn to be its landlord for a couple of days?
Looking forward to having a family gathering, then taking the cup to where I grew up in Boston to a couple local establishments to see some old friends.
3. That said, after winning it this past season, you made the move to Atlanta to join the Thrashers coaching staff. How did you come to that decision? Possible to give a quick explanation about the experience of going from one organization to another from the coach’s perspective (especially when there’s a new coach in place in Atlanta)?
One of the reasons it was easy to make the transition is that Rick Dudley, the GM of Atlanta now, was the assistant GM in Chicago who brought me over to Chicago along with Dale Tallon. Rick was my first coach when I was 19 and I have worked with Rick with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers as well, so there is a lot of history between us. I worked with Craig Ramsey, who is the new head coach of Atlanta, in Tampa Bay so we also have worked together and know each other.
4. You’ve had a couple of interim head coach jobs in the NHL – I’d be interested to hear how you personally approached this? For example, did you feel a lot of pressure to lock down the job full time, or is it actually less pressure (I suppose it depends on the situation you’re in)?
I take the same approach with every job – I go in to win. When taking over teams it’s usually a situation where it hasn’t won, so a new voice in the locker room is a breath of fresh air that helps you get off to a good start. The pressure of the job is always the same, you want to win and you’re expected to win in the NHL.
5. In general, do organizations let interim head coaches know their status right away when they become “interim head coach?” For example, is it usually communicated to them that they’re there to simply finish the season out or that they’re “coaching for a job next year” etc etc?
When you take the job you’re always going in with the idea that you’re going to get a good opportunity of getting the head coaching job if you win and are successful with the team.
6. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
When Patrick Kane walked in the locker room with his mullet haircut.
7. Finally, as a gear shop, we have to nerd out on equipment questions. How does today’s NHL/AHL/ECHL player look at equipment vs. the player view back in the 1980s when you played? Are you (or were you) attached to one specific brand of equipment over another? (skates, sticks, mostly)
I think today’s equipment is made to protect the players very well and there is a vast selection to choose from. Back when I played we kept the same shin pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and pants for like ten years because we liked our equipment comfortable and didn’t like to change it. Also, when I grew up there were only two skate companies, Bauer and CCM, to choose from.
Hockey Skate Fitting
The hockey forums online are loaded with it. Discussions all over locker rooms. Questions in our stores. As long as hockey shall survive as a sport (forever, we obviously hope), the issue of hockey skate fitting will be riding sidecar with it. What’s the best way to fit a skate? How do you know when you’re in the right skate or have the right fit? We thought we’d ask some of our experts here at Pure Hockey – a bunch of our store managers. Their responses are detailed, helpful and if we may say so ourselves, excellent. Dig in:
Jon Stone, Manager of Pure Hockey in Berlin, MA:
Skate fitting is an imperfect science. From the retail perspective, it can be the most challenging – but also the most rewarding – part of our day here at the hockey shop. Most customers have an idea about what type of skate they are looking for and it is our job to show them how – or if -that skate will work for them. Because all skates are different, it is important to try on many of them and be open minded to the actual size of the skate. Once you have a skate on your foot, it is important to kick your foot back into the heel pocket of the skate. You will get the true feel of the length of the skate by doing this and then lacing up the skate – this will give you a good idea of where your foot will be in the boot. Just sliding on the skate and standing up may make the skate feel too short, with your toes hitting the end cap. It is important to remember when lacing up your skates that it is not as important to pull the laces tight in the lower half of the boot or the top three eyelets. It is essential to pull the laces tight through the turn or curve of the middle eyelets. This is the area that will push your foot back in the skate and help settle and keep your heel back in the heel pocket.
Trust the material of skates these days to provide you with all the ankle support you will need. Over tightening of the top eyelets or wrapping the laces around your ankle will only inhibit your forward flex and shorten your stride. Try on numerous skates and remember – your friends skate or the pair that Patrick Kane wear may not be the best skate for you. High end (read: expensive) skates are build for performance and may be too stiff for kids or smaller players to use. Talk to your local Pure Hockey skate guy about how often you skate and what type of skates you are using now. There is the “right” skate out there for every player – take the time to find your fit.
Dan Torti, Manager of Pure Hockey in Warwick, RI:
Many different thoughts go into a skate fitting. Does the person have a narrow foot, a wide foot, a flat foot, a high arch, thick ankles, narrow ankles? You need to check this out because different models and brands of skates fit differently – just like shoes. As much as a customer wants to, we avoid fitting them according to the look of the skate. We can’t stress that enough, it’s not how it looks its how the skate feels. Who cares what a skate looks like if you’re not going to be able to use it to its full potential or even wear it because you ache to much to be able to do anything in the skate.
Also, you need to take the size and weight of the individual into consideration too. Going with a lower to mid-end skate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Younger kids don’t necessarily need high-end skates. A lot of times when you go to the high end skates they get stiffer – and when a skate is stiffer it becomes much harder for them to break it in. Chances are that by the time they break it in, it’ll be time to move on to their next pair of skates because they’ve out grown their current skates already.
How much are they skating? Someone who is skating everyday for travel teams or High School and/or at an elite level may also need to go with a different model skate than that of the individual that may be skating once a week at a house or Jr. Varsity level. Mid to high-end skates tend to be a little bit more durable. A high school varsity player will want to go with the higher-end skate. It’ll take the abuse, perform well, and give them good energy release because of the lack of breaking down.
Is the individual a finesse player looking to make tight turns and cuts or is the player a power forward looking to get as much potential energy out of their stride as possible? Do they want to have a tight fit around their ankle or a less restricting fit around their ankle. I want to fit the skate as close to the individual’s actual foot size as possible. This allows for better control over their skating stride. It is not uncommon to have a skate that is 2 – 2.5 sizes smaller than an individual shoe size. For someone who isn’t going to be growing any more, the perfect fit would be to have your toes slightly brushing the toe of the skate. For a youngster you can probably get them to this point – and give them a half size bigger at the most. This will allow them a little room to grow without the skate affecting their skating ability. A skate that is too big often times will give you blisters as a result of the sloppy fit. The reason for this is if your heel lifts or your foot is moving from side to side the friction from the movement will cause irritation which will turn into a blister. A lot of people feel that this happens because a skate is too small. This is not the case and heat molding the skate will not make the skate fit tighter. This process actually breaks down the glues and materials of a skate to break down some of the stiffness of the skate speeding up the break in process.
Basically a customer should buy a skate according to the player that they are not the player that they wish they are. Do NOT buy a skate according to look, or someone else’s opinion of the skate. Look to try on various models and compare the fits. Leave the skate on and walk around for a couple minutes. Usually aching or pains of the arch or mid foot don’t happen right away. Keep the skates on so that you know whether or not you will have any problems. Make sure the skate has a tight fit and that your ankle is locked into place, but still is comfortable.
Jamie Downie, Manager of Pure Hockey in Franklin, MA:
Customers should enter a skate fitting knowing what model skate and what size they are currently wearing and if they liked or disliked the skate they are coming out of and why. If the customer liked the skate they were wearing it makes a lot of sense to stay with the same or similar. This doesn’t mean never try something new – it is just a matter of known vs unknown. Once this has been determined the measuring and fitting of skates can begin. We will measure you to determine proper size – we do this every day!
I would encourage any customers to try on a couple models of skates so there is a comparison. A proper fit will have the heel staying down in the back of the skate and toes not touching but very close to the front of the skate.
There you have it – expertise from the best in the business! Always feel free to call your local store or our customer service for additional help on skate fitting. We’re here and happy to help you make the best and most sensible hockey skate purchase you possibly can.
Hockey Customer Service
Customer service – the magic elixir. Without it, you’re nothing. Most often retailers, online and offline, only hear the bad experiences, since people rarely shout out with glee in public about a positive experience. And that’s fine – you should always have a good experience and not need to feel shocked when you do. But of course, we still love getting the nice feedback, like a cat needs stroking. Luckily for us, we also don’t hear much negative feedback at all, so that makes us happy. All that said, here’s some text from an email sent to us this morning from a recent visitor to our Berlin, MA store. We love the effort here, not just for hockey related stuff, but also helping outside of hockey! Check it out:
I shop at Pure Hockey all the time and I felt the need to express my gratitude to your Berlin, MA store for going above + beyond with customer service.
I recently visited your Berlin, MA location to look into a new helmet for my son Scott. The gentleman that helped me fitted the helmet perfect for him + tried on multiple face masks until he got the right fit…Then I cashed out + that gentleman was so nice and personable too. Everyone there was helpful that day. When I left the store my car would not start!!!
Scott had a tournament game at New England Sports Center and needed to be there in 15 minutes. Everyone in the Berlin store looked for jumper cables but no one had any, so I called AAA and they told me it would be 45-60mins. One of your guys offered to take his break + drive my son over there so he wouldn’t miss his game and another one of your employees found a mom that was heading back over to NES to give him a ride. So Scott made his game with his new perfectly fit helmet and all worked out well. I just want you to know how much I truly appreciated everyones help that day.
It’s nice to know people still care + are willing to lend a helping hand, and that’s what I call way above and beyond
in customer service. Thank You Pure Hockey Staff in Berlin, MA!
A Proud hockey mom in Dartmouth, Ma
Your feedback is so important to us – positive or negative. Please never hesitate to reach out to us if you need to, either via our Customer Service hotline at 877-8SKATES (875.2837) or by emailing us at email@example.com. We’re always listening and happy to help!
Product Restrictions Apply
“Product Restrictions Apply.”
You see that statement in many, many, many advertisements for retail sales of all kinds. Judging by your Facebook posts and emails to us, you’ve certainly seen that statement it in our ads as well. It’s not because we’re trying to confuse you or make your life difficult. We promise. It’s hard enough to get through all the noise out there and convince you that buying something from us is your best bet.
So why is that pesky little statement in all of our ads, you ask? Because we have to have it there. We live under the rules and regulations of our vendors (Bauer, Reebok, CCM, Warrior, Easton, et al) when it comes to advertising sales & deals. There is something called “MAP” that all of the hockey retailers abide by. MAP stands for “minimum advertised pricing” and there are certain products – mostly all the newer stuff – that we are not allowed to sell under a certain price. If any retailer does sell for UNDER a MAP price, that retailer runs the risk of not being able to sell that equipment anymore. So it’s not a much of a choice – if Bauer, Reebok, Warrior or Easton stop making their product available in Pure Hockey stores, you ain’t coming!
So we abide by it and we accept it without hesitation. We understand it. We follow it.
Now, on the web, it’s even more stringent. We cannot advertise under MAP on the web either, but we have further restrictions. We can’t even advertise free giveaways on the web. For example, if we advertise that you get a free sticker or t-shirt with every order, that is against MAP policy. We can actually do that and we have, on some occasions, given away free shirts with web orders, but we just cannot advertise it. If we advertise a 20% off sale on the web (like we will be having this coming August), we have to let you, the shopper, know that a certain item cannot be discounted right there on the site or in the shopping cart.
The complexity with web retailing when using MAP products is an interesting animal. For example, a retailer might think they can skirt MAP by just discounting an item automatically when it goes into the cart. A retailer cannot do that. Why? Because even when a customer is looking at their cart, ready to check out and there’s a discount applied in the cart that violates MAP pricing, it’s still considered advertising a price. See? Complicated.
Let it be said here, however – we will always try to get you the best deal we possibly can. So call our Customer Service team if you have any questions about discounts - we don’t think you’ll be disappointed one bit — and saying that is not a MAP violation!
Bauer X:60 Limited Edition Stick Review
One thing we’ll be doing a lot of in the coming years is letting our store managers test out a crapload of hockey product and sharing their opinions about it. Today we’ve roped in one of our newest managers, Alan Albee. Alan manages the new Pure Hockey store up in Dover, NH. That being said, Alan is not new to hockey. He managed the same store when it was called Philbricks and he was so good at it that we kept him on!
We gave Alan one of the new Bauer Limited Edition X:60 sticks and here’s what he had to say:
Incredibly light, incredibly fast, incredible feel in my hands; the Bauer Vapor X:60 Limited Edition stick is leading the way in high-end composite stick performance and technology. The X:60 LE stick has a blade light feel and gave me incredible balance -which makes the stick feel like an extension of my hands. This version of the X:60 has the same lightning quick release as the original X:60 with a darker look to shoot harder, dangle faster, and leave your opponents wishing they had picked up the LE when they had the chance. Get it while you can; the Limited Edition Bauer X:60 stick helped elevate my game and I looked good doing it!
Choosing the Right Hockey Stick Flex
When you walk into a Pure Hockey and see the amount of sticks we usually have in stock, we admit it can be overwhelming for someone who isn’t well-versed in HOCKEY GEAR. In some cases, there are thousands of sticks in stock, so it’s not easy for the casual player or parent. That said, we enlisted our store manager up in Dover, NH, to take the mystery out of it for you. Here’s their clear and concise take on how to choose the right flex:
The most important factor to consider when choosing the flex for a stick is weight. More so than height, the weight of the player using the stick makes the biggest difference in the player’s ability to flex the stick and get off a better shot. Height can be factored into determining the proper flex, but primarily only for tall adults that fall right in the middle of two flex options. For example, a 190 pound player should generally use a regular senior flex. However, if the 190 pound player is 6’6” he might want to use a stiff flex because of the amount of leverage he can get on his stick.
Another thing about flex to keep in mind when shopping for a new stick is that the flex rating that manufacturers put on the sticks is not based on a universal scale. For example, what reebok considers an 85 flex might feel distinctly different than what Warrior considers an 85 flex to be.
All composite sticks can be cut shorter or have an extension put in to make them longer. This, however, changes the flex of the stick. The longer the stick is made, the softer it becomes. Conversely, the shorter a stick is cut, the stiffer it becomes. As a general rule, for every inch added to a stick subtract five from the flex scale, and for every inch cut off a stick add five to the scale. Factor the amount cut off or added to a stick when determining the proper flex.
Generally speaking, flex ratings correspond to player weight as such:
Youth (Approximately 30 flex) 0-60lbs
Junior (Approximately 50 Flex) 60-100lbs
Intermediate (60-70 flex) 100-150lbs
Senior Mid (Approximately 75 flex) 150-170lbs
Senior Regular (Approximately 85 flex) 170-200lbs
Senior Stiff (Approximately 100 flex) 200+ lbs
One last tip: when feeling the flexibility of a stick in the store, DO NOT push down on the stick with your bottom hand. No one shoots like that on the ice, and this does not help you determine if the stick is the right flex for you. Instead, put your top hand where it will be after you cut it, lock your elbow on your bottom arm, and pull the top of the stick towards your body. This simulates the shooting motion on the ice, and is a better way to determine if the stick is the proper flexibility for you.
Hope this helps! Let us know your thoughts anytime!
Pure Hockey IPhone/IPad Application
The Pure Hockey IPhone app has arrived! For now, IPhone, IPad and IPod Touch are the only devices that can download the application. Of course, we do hope to expand the scope of compatible phones during 2011 and beyond. So let all your hockey playing friends and hockey fans know to head on over to ITunes and download this puppy! It’s actually a real helpful tool for anyone who shops at Pure Hockey.
Before I started working here, I was always confused about the store hours, since they change every few months. Now you don’t have to be confused anymore. It’s all there on the app! Laid out for you nicely, I might add. What else does the app do?
Well, the Pure Hockey IPhone app provides mobile users with easy, one-touch access to the following:
- Updated store hours
- All the important addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for each store
- Maps and directions to each store
- A link to explore and purchase at the online store
- Updated product features and deals
- Direct access to our blog, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages
- An easy and direct way for you to subscribe to receive SMS/Texts from us
So the link is here - or you can download right out of ITunes by simply searching for Pure Hockey. Remember, you can also join our Mobile Club to keep informed about specials and deals. Just text the keyword “hockey” to 83936. Enjoy the app! And please, let us know if you have any feedback or features you’d like to see. We’re always listening.
Welcome to the Brand New PureHockey.com!
Welcome to the brand shiny new PureHockey.com!
When we set out to build a brand new PureHockey.com, we didn't want to take our old site and just make it a little bit better. That's what our competitors do. We didn't want to just create some new colors and graphics, either, and claim we have a new site. Heck no. We wanted to BLOW IT OUT OF THE WATER. So that's what we did.
As you can see when you scoot around the new digs here, it's a complete, 100% overhaul of our old, creaky, antique site. The first thing we thought about was the most obvious - what should we do that would be best suited for YOU on PureHockey.com and the answers were not exactly hard to capture - a place to purchase, learn, see videos, get equipment guidance from human beings - and of course see all the latest and greatest hockey equipment and apparel..
A note, though - there are many, many changes from our old site. For more information on how to actually use all the new features, including an incredibly helpful new search and navigation tool (among many other new features), click right here. We've put together a crash course for you - with pretty pictures - to get you comfortable with the new digs as quickly as possible.
So what else is new? Well, do you have an hour? There is a TON of stuff going on now:
First off, our new images allow you to see a lot of key product in 360 degree formats - that's right, you can take your mouse and spin some product all the way around, up and down and see it from all angles. How sweet is that? Want a sample - just click here. Nobody in hockey retail is doing this. We do. Because we love you.
Second, most of our product descriptions are actually written by human beings. That's right - PEOPLE! Can you even imagine? We undertook quite a project during the building of this new site - we enlisted hockey experts to re-write almost ALL of the product descriptions. Most of them were written by our store managers - this is a group of guys who are as crazy about hockey as you could possibly imagine. Oh sure, you can go to our competitors websites and read the puzzling descriptions with verbiage that only scientists can understand (and most of which are just copied and pasted out of books provided by the vendors) OR you can hang with us and get product descriptions written by OUR people, with OUR opinions. These are people who live and play the game, giving you the guidance you need on a human level.
Third, there is now video for a lot of our products to help you get familiarized with what you're thinking about buying. The more information the better! Some videos are provided by the vendors (Bauer, Reebok, Easton, etc) and some will be shot here at Pure Hockey. Stay tuned in 2011 as we really increase our video presence.
That's not even close to what else has changed around here: Other stuff:
- Our store location pages have been greatly enhanced. You can now get easy access to store hours, maps, directions, manager bios and photos & video tours for each store.
- We've made huge strides consolidating categories. It's a much more simple site to navigate and find stuff, as all the important hockey stuff you need is along the top of the site on those sweet hanging banners (which seem to be most people's favorite part of the site).
- In addition to better search and navigation, the traditional search box has also undergone a tremendous upgrade. Try it out!
- We also love the mouseover on the shopping cart icon so you can see what's in your cart without actually having to GO to the cart.
In short, the recurring theme we had in mind as we designed and built this beast was one word - SIMPLICITY. We wanted to create as simple, seamless and easy a process for you as humanely possible - and while we feel like we've achieved that with what you see here, we're not done. A few features are still to come and we'll keep those close to the vest for now! But stay tuned, because it's gonna be a fun ride.
With change, there's always pain points. The one bummer about our complete online overhaul is that you'll need to establish a new account with us. Your old information (login, email, card info) was not something we were able to bring with us to the new site. It only takes a minute to sign up, though, so go ahead and do that now, won't you?
As always, feel free to share any feedback about the site. As always, YOU are the reason we are here, so we thank you for all of your past and future business.
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