"Hold the Mayo" headed back in the studio this week (Photo by Courtney Eidman)
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!
The biggest game of the year is this Saturday. I’m looking forward to all those people screaming. The Boy Scout jerseys look really sharp. I can’t give you a hint, they belong to Crazy Jim Gadd, and there’s no way I’m getting in trouble with him. Hopefully, I won’t slam another finger in the door this weekend because I’m an idiot. We’d like to offer that tour of the locker room to anyone buying 50 tickets to be donated to Aeros Charities Tickets for Kids. Call 713.974.PUCK today – space is limited! It’s also Hockey Newcomer Night. I’ve seen some of the videos they are going to show – they are awesome! As always call that number for great rates on group tickets. Tickets are going really fast for Saturday’s game against Chicago – 7:35 p.m. I’ll see you there!
Hey, everybody. Blog central again. The big guy’s blog. I love bloggin’. I’m going incog-blogo, baby.
I’ve got an audio clip for you. I’m going to do the chorus for a song I wrote about Bucee’s. The song is called “It’s a Beaver”. Benny and I are going to record this song, and maybe a love song, on Valentine’s Day, so they can finish up the CD. Click on the Bucee's Beaver below to listen to the song!
Also, check out Aeros.com this Friday, because we're planning on putting the video of one of our songs up!
When was the last time we talked? Ah yes, before last Thursday’s game. My finger’s feeling better. I feel like an idiot with this white tape all over it. Doc Vanek gave me that big metal brace and tells me I need it, but I don’t need it that bad. It makes me look like I’ve got a big fat sausage for a finger. It’s healing pretty well. There’s a huge gash on the bottom side, and the nail is getting ready to fall off. The gash on the bottom, they left it open to let it drain. If they didn’t, I’d be in a whole lot more pain I bet.
So we played last week at home, Tuesday and Thursday. I had planned on going home Tuesday after the game to spend time with the wife and kids. Both teams practiced at Toyota Center on Wednesday. I was going to go home, but after I got shot up with the meds, I stayed the night at Toyota Center on my couch. You saw the picture last week. It smells a little bit of pickles, but what are you going to do about it. There’s only so much Lysol and Febreze you can spray.
Wednesday, we practiced at Toyota Center. Heather and the girls came up and we all went to the Houston Zoo. It was great weather. We met up with the Lundbohms, Bryan, Misty and Preston, by accident. I spent the night Wednesday at Toyota Center. We did the normal night-before-the-game stuff. Refer to last week’s blog if you didn’t read about that. I don’t want to be repetitious.
After Thursday’s game, we hung the gear in the room and got up Friday morning to pack. We were going to Peoria. There’s no straight way into Peoria, so we fly into Chicago – about three hours from Peoria.
Let me real quick go off on a tangent and talk about Peoria’s bus, which they travel on. Their bus is unbelievable. It’s not even like a bus, it’s like a semi-truck with a logo on the side of it. When I was in Atlantic City that one year, we bused everywhere. On that lucky occasion, when you traveled more than eight hours, you’d get a sleeper bus. With a regular 52 passenger bus, you get on it and go. The sleeper bus has bunks in it. It usually averages 12 to 20 bunks. They have a couch. It’s almost like a tour-semi. The guys can lay down, watch movies, whatever. You’ve got a sitting area to watch movies. Peoria’s sleeper bus is the cream of the crop. (See pictures of the outside of the bus, and the inside). They bus a lot of places. One time they were going to bus to Manitoba but had to cancel at the last minute.
So in Chicago, we get the guys on the bus, and the truck guy in Peoria – Kurt – who’s the bus driver from Peoria, picks me and the gear up…That’s how I got on that tangent. There was a method to my madness.
Me and Kurt get a half hour outside of Chicago on the tollway, and Continental calls to tell us that we left two pieces of gear. I knew we had 46 pieces total, since we had no practices. But we were missing two so we ended up having to come back. Getting off the tollway in Chicago is almost impossible. It’s not as easy as it is in Houston. We had to go through another town, go past the tollway, and then come back down to go north. We lost about an hour. We got in Chicago about 1:30 p.m. and we ended up getting to Peoria about 6. But we couldn’t move into Peoria anyways, because Bradley played a game at 2 on Saturday. So I went to the hotel, got something to eat and chilled out.
There was no pre-game skate Saturday because of the Bradley game, but they wanted the guys to get their legs moving. So we brought an extra bag with running shoes and a bag of laundry for them to use. Some guys went to the mall and walked, some guys went to the gym. It was an option of which you wanted to do, to get that lactic acid out of your legs.
It was an 8 p.m. start due to the switchover from basketball, which entails quite a bit of work. That was a question from the mailbag, so let me talk about it a bit here before tackling it later. When you’re going from hockey to basketball, first they throw insulated flooring over the ice. Then, they lay the court over that. In some cases, they’ll take the ice out, like if there’s a monster truck rally or a horse show, because the dirt will get between the cracks and it wreaks havoc on the ice.
Now, Milwaukee is 3 ½ hours from Peoria. You don’t have to go through Chicago, you just go west of it. So the Milwaukee guy, Phil, is an unbelievable man. If you ever see him, tell him to grow a bit. I have something with small people in this league that I like so much.
Phil came and picked us up, and the funny thing is he took San Antonio (which played a 1 p.m. game Saturday in Milwaukee and then played Sunday in Peoria, the opposite of us), he drove them down to Peoria, unloaded them, got there right before our game ended, at about 9:30 or 10. We took our gear and packed it on the truck. Kurt the Peoria bus guy, too. Apparently, Kurt is getting the word out on the Blog and the CD. I had a bunch of people asking me about them. I love you bro, you’re awesome. Also Joel helped out a lot, the Peoria equipment manager.
So we made the 3 ½ hour drive. I drove the last 45 minutes or so because Phil was pretty tired. He had already made that drive once after San Antonio’s game. It was about 1 a.m. We got into Milwaukee about 3:30, and unloaded and unpacked. Jerry stayed in Chicago in case anyone needed treatment. The team bused to Chicago and stayed there so they could get some more good sleep before Sunday’s game.
We hung the gear up, and got the fans going to dry it. I got a hotel room about 6 a.m., and slept in until 10:30, when I got up and came back to Bradley Center. I sharpened some skates, and the guys showed up at about 1:45 on the bus from Chicago. They got dressed, had their meeting, lost the one-goal game…These one-goal games, 10 of them in a row, are driving me crazy. I can’t wait to blow somebody out. I hope we can do it against Chicago. Or someone. It’s about time we do it.
After the game, we quickly loaded the gear in Milwaukee’s truck. Even after the 4 p.m. game, it’s too late to really get a flight back. I hopped on the bus with the guys, and we drove the hour and 15 minutes to the hotel in Chicago. We had a later flight back to Houston on Monday, about 10:30 a.m. or so. They had quite a bit of snow in Milwaukee Sunday night. Phil stayed the night in Milwaukee with our gear on the truck and then got up at 6:15. He had to be at the airport at 9, and he was in so much traffic, it took him 2 ½ hours to get to Chicago. It’s one place that’s worse than here traffic-wise.
We were delayed about an hour due to the rain here in Houston on Monday. We came to Sugar Land and unloaded. I’m looking forward to a lot of different things this week.
We’ve got a lot of player appearances. So we give guys their jerseys to go out, or one appearance is here with Stanzel at SLICE. And, of course Valentine’s Day is the 14th. I have no idea what to get the wife. I am so screwed on this one. I’m thinking jewelry or perfume, but it’s all been done. She’s into James Avery bracelets, so I may have to go there. Hopefully she won’t read this, but I know she will to see what I wrote about her. She’ll know what she’s getting. Once you have kids, it’s kind of like “Just tell me what you want, and I’ll buy it.”
When we were in Milwaukee, I tried to get summer sausage and cheese. It’s the best I’ve ever had, and the wife likes it. But on Sunday they were closed, so I’m going to have to wait another couple weeks. That was going to be a good Valentine’s Day present. Sausage and cheese. Give me Husband of the Year while you’re at it.
The Booster Club banquet is Thursday. It’s gonna be hot. Both Stanzel and I are emcee-ing. We can hopefully make some people laugh, and get people into those silent auctions. It’s all for good causes (Kids Unlimited). There’s a lot of good items – a pair of shorts that are ripped out…My fingernail that fell off…One of my guitar picks signed by my dog with his mouth…One of my broken guitar strings.
Oh, and Benny Thomson’s flip flops. I’m trying to get him to auction them. He’s had them since peewee. He’s got them glued together with hot glue and clear transparent duct tape from the Rockets Power Dancers locker room. They’re beyond recognition. I don’t think anyone will buy them, but if you do, you may get some sort of mold disease. I’m like, “Dude I’ll buy you new sandals.” He’s like “No, I’ve had them forever.” I told him, “Dude, we’re Hold the Mayo, you need new sandals.”
So thanks to Kurt in Peoria, and the fans for wishing me well. I got on the bench and a couple people asked me about my finger. Even the guy who usually asks me if I want a sandwich. Thanks to them. Thanks to Phil in Milwaukee for doing what he does. Notice none of these guys are thanking me in their blogs. Oh wait, that’s because they don’t have a blog!
Q: Hello Ricker! Can I call you Ricker? No, okay, how about Da Ricker, still a no huh, okay I will just go with Puck Bunny. Enough playful banter.
I would like to know what they do with the ice when the Rockets are at home playing. Do they remove the ice or is it covered with some sort of insulated flooring?
Thanks for The Blog Mr. Bronwell. I have really enjoyed seeing the AHL from the viewpoint of the equipment guy. How do you get a job as an equipment manager anyway? Are you retiring anytime soon? Sounds like a great gig for a guy like me, passionate about hockey but not good enough to play. From Aaron.
A: If the Rockets have a game after our game, they have two crews come in. While one crew is cleaning the building, the other is taking out the glass and laying down the insulated boards and the floor.
I was technician for an ice rink in Kansas City. I drove the Zamboni, too, and and once a year we took out the ice. You turn the compressors off, and it melts on its own for 10-12 hours. Once it starts separating from the floor, you can bring in a bulldozer and just start ripping the ice out and moving it towards the drains, or bringing it outside.
Putting in the ice takes about three days. You spray down a layer of ¼ inch of ice, then you paint that white. You lay some more water down, freeze it, and hand paint all the lines with ice paint. It’s a lot thicker than regular paint. You can get nice sharp, clean and crisp lines. The logos, they stencil and hand paint. Then they put some more layers of water on top of that and let it freeze. It’s anywhere between ½ to ¾ inch of ice. You can always tell if the ice is soft in places, because guys tend to overstride when they go to stop. It takes longer. You may see them slam into the boards. But if it’s too hard, they just fall down altogether. The normal temperatures for the ice is 19-20 degrees to keep it nice and firm and not too soft.
You just want my job so you can have a blog. Just kidding. It’s not all that glorious, trust me. We have a lot of fun. Most guys start out as assistants, or stick kids that just help out at the rink.
Q: Do you do anything before a game to try and give good Karma to the guys to help them win? From Sandy.
A: I don’t really have many. The only thing I do is, that I always put game jerseys out at 4 p.m. on a gameday for a 7 or 7:30 start. Right about 3 or 3 ½ hours before, I have to have them out. That’s a big superstition of mine. Another thing is, I like to pick up hangars when the guys go out for warm-up. That’s why you’ll see Donny on the bench for warm-up for the first five minutes. I always have a little thing when we fly, something I say before we take off and land. But I can’t tell you that. It wouldn’t be superstition if I told you.
Q: After reading all the talk on skate issues in your last blog, I am curious to know on average how many pairs of skates a player will go thought in a season. I’m sure it varies from guy to guy. From Danni
A: It varies from guy to guy. When they start breaking down an older pair, it takes about two weeks to get new ones in. We’ll order them when we start seeing them break down. On average, guys go through two a year. Roman will go through one pair usually. This week is a big week for guys. I have five guys getting in new skates for the stretch run. It’s typically how it works. Goalies usually only use one pair, because they don’t like breaking new ones in. You can usually get away with it for goalies, they don’t want the skates too stiff. If you go down to the ECHL, it’s a money issue, so most guys get one pair, one or two guys may get two pair a year. Here we budget for two a year, and in the NHL I’m not real sure, but I’m thinking if they need them, they get them.
Thanks also to Tim, Christine, Austin, J.B. (who wanted to hear the Bucee’s song), Julie, David, John and Gary for their recent feedback. I read every one personally. I don’t want to make this thing too long where no one wants to read it! Keep the feedback coming! We'll see you next week.