Read this week's Mailbag - is a replacement for asst. equipment manager Donny White on the way?
Aeros equipment manager and resident comedian Rick Bronwell continues his Aeros.com blog. Rick loves hearing from his fans...rather, Aeros fans...so e-mail him now.
Ok so it’s been two weeks since we’ve talked at Blog Central. We’ve had a really busy time but I’m happy to be back! We got tons of e-mails asking me where I was – ok, substitute tons with a word that rhymes with it, none – so we’re good to go.
Saturday, March 24, 4 p.m., Toyota Center
We just did a tour of the locker room with Bill Scott and his family. He bought one of those ticket packages we offered up in the blog earlier this season. Heidi Daigle did one, too. Thanks for everyone who has taken advantage of buying the tickets for kids and taking the tour of the locker room. They enjoyed their time. There are a couple of games left that we can do this. We’ve got this weekend, a couple of weekend games in April. You need to get down here about 3:30, and I’ll show you around the room and answer questions. Plus it goes to a good cause. If you want to do that, definitely do it. Buy 50 tickets to be used by Aeros Tickets for Kids and the charity of your choice. It’s $450 and you’ll get to come down and meet me! Call Jeremy Burson at 713.361.7946 for more information.
For some reason do you NOT want to meet the Ravishing One? No problem. There are still lots of other chances to get to Toyota Center for Friday’s game against Peoria and Saturday’s versus Worcester. Saturday it’ll be great to see Patrick Traverse and Scott Ferguson again. And the first 3,000 fans will receive a coffee mug. As always call 1.866.GO.AEROS or visit Aeros.com for tickets. You can get those great group tickets too – discounts for as few as 20 people, but why not bring more? Call 713.974.PUCK to order, and tell them Rick sent you.
I also want to throw this out there – if you have a puck from the giveaway this past Saturday night, bring it to any of the 12 Houston Warehouse Pool Supply locations and receive $15 off any chlorine “puck” purchase, 15 pounds or higher. The offer expires April 15.
Now let’s go back in time…
Saturday, March 17, 1 p.m., Syracuse. N.Y.
Greeting, salutations. Erin Go Bragh. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.
Let’s summarize the first two days of our trip. The first day (Thursday) was really smooth. There were no problems getting into Toronto. We did our normal gameday stuff.
On Thursday night I got to hang out with one of my best buddies, former Aero Erik Westrum. He and Kelly got along really well with me and Heather. I definitely consider him one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever met in hockey. He said he reads the blog, so he wanted me to tell everyone hi from Toronto. He’s living in this condo – all Toronto is, is high-rise condos all over the lakefront. He lives five minutes from the arena, five minutes from downtown. He’s like 20 floors up. The Westrums are beautiful people.
Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum is an old building, built I think in 1923. They remodeled it for the Marlies to come in there. They started the remodeling the year before for the Roadrunners. The Marlies have two separate rooms – really cool – and right in the middle of the two rooms (one side training room, the next one is the locker room) is a huge arch. It’s small but it works out okay. There’s a huge door in the room and it’s like two separate rooms. They wanted to blow out this wall and make it one big room for the locker room and training room. But they can’t, because Canada historically preserved this archway in the middle of the locker room. I wish I could show you guys that. It’s an archway made out of bricks. So they have two separate rooms for the visitors. We’ll put the players all on one side and the goalies over by the trainer. Across the hallway, we call it the change room or dry room. You hang the underwear up in there. The players take off their suits, put on their long tops, t-shirts, whatever, and go back in the other room to get dressed for the gear. That way we can get everyone out of the locker room when they’re showering so we can have the gear ready when they are.
We loaded the bus with the gear, which we normally don’t do very often. We usually use a truck, and either myself will drive it or we’ll have someone come and we’ll pay them for it.
Most of the times if we play back-to-back games, we’ll do a post-game meal that comes out of the players’ per diem. That night it was pork tenderloin, salad, vegetables and some home fries. Tonight they have those seven layer brownies that I love but can’t have. It’s okay. I’m onto a new way of life even if it stinks.
Our bus driver – God bless him. He’s unbelievable at helping us load the bus. He’s one of the only ones since I’ve been in Houston that helps us load and unload the bus, and when it’s just Jerry and I on two hours of sleep, it’s hard. We dropped the guys off in Rochester – normally three hours, but it took us 4 1/2 because of the snow, and it took us 45 minutes at the border, cars and plows and such.
We get into Rochester on Saturday morning at like 3 a.m., and the snow is pretty bad. The hotel has a huge overhang that you go under and curve around a sharp right turn and park in the garage. So we had Dan in Syracuse come over to pick us up. It’s normally about 1 ½ hours max, and it took him 2 ½ hours to get there. So the truck is parked up there, and it can’t get down because of the snow, and the bus can’t get up either because of the snow. Rochester is all one way streets, and we’re trying to figure it out.
We see some really tall guy standing there, with a scraper in one hand and dressed decently. He starts telling us how to get back to the truck. He gave us nice directions. He helped us back the bus out – it’s a main street but it’s 3:30 a.m. He asked me if I had any spare change for him. I was like wow this guy is homeless – I thought he worked for the hotel. So I started digging through my pockets for some change. Then I said “You wanna’ make $20?” So he hopped on the bus, we drove around, and he helped us unload the bus onto the truck. His name was Homer, who is the original dummy dad, my idol.
We get into Syracuse around 5:30 a.m. and back the truck up. Syracuse is a really old barn too. It was built in the 50’s. It’s a War Memorial so they can’t do much structurally to it. We’re directly across the whole rink from where Syracuse is. Their visiting locker room is fantastic. Rodney does a great job with the upkeep on it. The stalls are wide and big and there are 26 of them. There’s plenty of room. And the biggest thing for me is, does it have enough room for the gear, and a bottom that opens up that I can throw the bag in. I hate having shoes and toiletry bags and stuff outside the stall.
Jerry and I check into the hotel and I get to sleep about 7 a.m. I got up around 11:30 a.m. I went down and got some brunch and headed down to the rink to set up some more. We didn’t do much more than hang the gear the night before. Jerry couldn’t sleep and got to bed at 8:30 a.m. The maid comes an hour later even though he has the do not disturb sign up. His deadbolts are locked, you’d think she gets the hint, but she didn’t. So poor Jerry’s going on about three hours of sleep.
Sunday, March 18, 2:45 a.m., Rochester, N.Y.
The game in Syracuse is over and we’re in Rochester.
Dan’s kid works the visitors’ room in Syracuse. He always makes sure there’s some bottled water on the bus. It took us about 1:45 to get here tonight and drop the guys off. We went back to the rink in Rochester, another one built in the 50’s. They spent millions of dollars renovating the place. But the visitors’ locker room is like the original one. It seats 20. The normal stall is three or 3 ½ feet across. These are probably 18 inches across. The helmets don’t fit, and there’s not much room for the gloves and everything else. It took us about 30 minutes to unload the bus, all 52 pieces. Jerry and I hung the gear up, turned the fans on and here we are.
We’ll play the game Sunday at 6 p.m. We’ll throw the gear back on the bus and go to Toronto and we’ll fly to Winnipeg. You should see all the people completely drunk here. They are so hammered it’s not even funny. I’ve seen lots of people kissing. Rochester apparently knows how to party for St. Patrick’s Day. There’s green and gold confetti everywhere. It used to be a Bennigan’s, but it’s still an Irish type feel. It’s a mess. You can tell the cleaning crew is going to have a fun time with it. We weren’t here this morning, but they tell me there was a 5K run – it was snowing and about 18 degrees. The green beer was apparently flowing before 10 a.m.
Onto bigger and better things.
Saturday, March 24, 10:45 a.m., Toyota Center
Nothing neat has happened really believe it or not. The games in Manitoba were unbelievable – we won two games. Dieter was phenomenal. When he plays well, the team plays so good in front of him.
I think Toyota Center is the loudest building I’ve been in. Syracuse is, too – they have a lot of anger issues. It’s small and has a metal roof so the sound reverberates. The energy in here at Toyota Center…Aaron Voros said the energy in our building is one of the best he’s ever been in. If you’re reading this, see how you fire the boys up, so keep doing it.
In Winnipeg they get 9,000 people and it’s not nearly as loud as Toyota Center with 6,000. It’s strange.
Saturday, March 24, 1 p.m., Toyota Center
We didn’t have a skate out here. Sorry Stanzel for not telling you. Poor guy shows up at the rink at 9 a.m. with the notes and it was only me and Donny. He looked like he had a fun night and could have used a bit more sleep. Ken Double's back in town this weekend - well for one game - Stanzel says he's looking forward to getting back to the other side of press row.
There was a meeting and workout at the practice rink. We got stuff ready to go for tonight. They’ve got a horse show in here tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing that on Sunday. I think they’re using our room for a horse feeding room. Just kidding. We get to leave our room set up all week which is really nice. We just straighten it out and leave it, and it’ll be there next Thursday. We have a whole week to not do anything.
I talked to the guy from the KISS cover band. I really want to do open for that show of theirs. I have to talk Benny into coming back from either Alberta or Beaumont if they’re still in the playoffs and hopefully they will be.
Q: Hey Rick. Being a goalie myself what are some of the craziest things you have seen goalies do? Also what do ya'll listen to in the way of music in the locker rooms? By the way, my golden retriever Gus wants to know if he can be an asst. equipment manager? – Thanks, Mike Ehmcke
A: Crazy things for goalies.
Apart from being crazy in general, they always have little quirks they always do before and during every game. Most of them are secret things they keep to themselves. I've been lucky to not have many of these guys on the team the past couple of years but one guy does come to mind. Freddy Cloutier... Enough said. He did so much crazy stuff it would drive the whole team wild. He had a little rubber dog toy, like a kong if any of you know what that is, and he would throw it against the wall and try to catch it. Now a "kong" has a bunch of bumps all over it so there was no predicting on where it would go after it hit the wall. I had that guy for two years and I never think I ever witnessed him actually catching it after throwing it. Nice, huh? If those things actually work, then I guess my dog Owen would be a sick goaltender. He is just like a goalie if you think about it, sleeps all the time, decides to play whenever he feels like it, eats all the time, and you need a leash to control him. Going into the past couple of years, Josh Harding would always use a Smelling salt (Ammonia) to sort of "wake" him up before every period.
We listen to a variety of styles. Mostly rock, Metallica, Nickelback, Hinder, Led Zepplin, that type of stuff. Although in the last couple of years, rap has really made a force to be reckoned with. Back in the day I would carry a folder with a bunch of mixed CD's at home and on the road. But with the invention of the I-Pod we just mix some playlists together and go from there. So much easier! A couple of song that are almost played before every game are Animals (Nickelback) We Fly High, by I have no idea, and Buc-cee’s by Hold the Mayo....HA!!
And Mike, your dog can come work for me any day of the week!! He's almost as hairy as Donny and we all know that is prerequisite to work for a hockey club!!
Q: Hey Rick. I just wanted to thank you for giving me Mike Smith's towel when you were here (in Utah) two years ago. I really love that kid and it meant a lot. Now that the Grizzlies are with the ECHL I don't get to follow the Aeros much but.....I have fond memories. Wishing you all the best and thanks again. – Janice Smith
A: Janice – that thing is a collector’s item. It was one of the final things to touch Smitty’s big hairdo before he cut it!
I’m working on spicing some things up in the blog. Everytime somebody gives me feedback, I’ll make up a nickname for them. A hockey nickname, kind of like the guys do around the room. A Dear Abby kind of thing. If there’s anything you want to know, as a little reward you’ll have a little nickname from the Ravishing One. We’ll start next week! Click here to e-mail the blog!