The coaching staff and players are always front and center at an event such as the World Junior Hockey Championship. But toiling in relative obscurity are a group of energetic support staff members that are there to keep things together at all times, and allow things to go smoothly for the players and coaches.
Team Canada’s support staff is comprised of Team Leader Denis Hainault, Equipment manager Bryan Boyes, Sport physiotherapist Doug Stacey, Team Doctor Ian Auld, Team Coordinator Ron Pyette, Media Relations Director Brad Pascall and Media Relations Coordinator Mat Litalien. And here’s a typical game day for Canada’s unsung hero.
7am - Bryan Boyes, the team’s Equipment Manager, is first on the scene at the arena every morning. Boyes, who is at his third World Junior Championship, insists on getting to the rink very early to get everything ready for the team’s pre-game skate.
“As an Equipment Manager, it’s my role to get everything ready for the players, sharpen skates, equipment repair, inventory control over all the equipment. My job’s done when they arrive. The players should be able to arrive, suit up and play.”
“After I set up the room, I’m sharpening skates, checking equipment and that takes me up to the time practice starts.”
8:30am- Sport physiotherapist Doug Stacey is usually the next guy on the scene, and assists Boyes in getting the room ready, setting up the dressing room for the practice.
“I usually try to get up an hour before the players, to make sure that I’m at the rink way before the players.”
9:15am - The players get their wakeup calls. Team Coordinator Ron Pyette makes sure that everyone’s up and that they’re aware what the schedule is, where they need to be.
“It’s my job to make sure everything’s in place logistically so that the players can get where they need to get to, and all that. I’m also on call for the coaches if they need something, anything that helps them do their jobs.”
10am - After breakfast, the players arrive at the rink for an 11 am pre-game skate. Arriving with them are Doctor Ian Auld, the team’s physician, the media relations staff made up of Brad Pascall and Mat Litalien, Team Coordinator Ron Pyette and Team Leader Denis Hainault.
As the players arrive, Doug Stacey takes care of taping, massages and loosening guys up for practice.
If you’re looking for Dr. Ian Auld, just look for the players. He won’t be far behind. “I need to be where the players are, just in case something goes wrong. We know some of the injuries that are going on, so we’ll follow them, assess them and watch them a little more closely in practice.”
Pascall and Litalien have prepared Game Notes and distribute them to members of the media. Between 35 and 50 Canadian media outlets are represented at the 2005 World Junior Championship.
11am - Bryan Boyes and Doug Stacey remain on the bench for the most part during practices, to assist with anything, whether it’s filling water bottles or assisting in the case of an injury or a problem with equipment.
Noon - With the media attention that the World Juniors receive in Canada, the media relations staff of Brad Pascall and Mat Litalien is by far the busiest P.R. staff at the World Juniors. While other teams deal with two or three media requests after practice, Canada can expect requests for between 10 and 15 players.
Meanwhile, Stacey takes care of more treatments, massages and stretching following practice as well.
After a pre-game meal, Stacey has a room set up at the hotel for massages and treatments.
Meanwhile, Boyes remains at the rink, takes care of laundry, gets the game set-up done in the dressing room. There are more skates to be sharpened as some players prefer to have it done prior to game time. And there are always last minute repairs, touch-ups to equipment to take care of.
Denis Hainault, Team Leader, acts as a liaison for Team Canada with the host organizing committee and the IIHF. “That means everything from the registration of the players, the rules and regulations, officiating and that type of thing. I also supervise when it comes to the logistics surrounding the team.”
Every two days, there’s a Championship directorate meeting which Hainault attends on behalf of the team and Hockey Canada. “We go over all aspects of the event, the games, the results, the officiating or any problems and try to improve operations of the event for the teams. When it comes to the final days of the Championship, there will be Directorate meetings every day, because of everything that happens, with the standings, the medal round, schedules changing, teams changing venues or dressing rooms and that type of thing.”
5pm - Team bus pulls into the Arena parking lot usually about two hours prior to game time.
5:30 pm - Doug Stacey leads the players in a pre-game stretch that has become one of the many National Junior Team traditions, as well as helping all the players loosen up for practice.
“Pre-game is a lot like pre-practice, but everything’s a little more extended. More players need treatments as we get ready to take the ice.”
6:20 pm - 6:40 pm -On-ice warm-up
7:00 pm -Team takes to the ice
7:08 pm -Opening faceoff
Boyes and Stacey man the bench during games along with the coaching staff. Dr. Auld is as close as possible, with a clear view of the play at all times, as it assists him in assessing injuries as they occur.
“Things always happen during the games,” notes Boyes. “Rivets, skate blades break, guys need skates sharpened during the game, guys break two sticks during a period … any little thing like that needs to get done, that’s my responsibility.”
Pyette is in the press box, where he takes statistics for the coaches during each game, face-offs, turnovers, hits and shots which are communicated to the coaches after each period.
Sitting beside him is Hainault, who, in a perfect world, isn’t very busy during Team Canada games. “As long as there are no issues, my role during games is fairly limited. If something goes on as far as the operation of the game, than I need to be involved.”
Brad Pascall and Matt Litalien are also in the press box, accommodating media questions, checking up on records, statistics and responding to phone interview requests from across the country.
Moments after the game, at least forty members of the media are swarming in the media mix zone, needing interviews and battling with deadlines. Pascall and Litalien will, over the course of thirty to forty minutes, coordinate some 75 interviews with at least a dozen players.
Meanwhile, official broadcasters TSN and RDS, as well as The Fan Radio Network are conducting live interviews for their respective broadcasts at positions located near the Team Canada dressing room.
While players are being interviewed and receiving treatments, Team Canada coordinator Ron Pyette is making sure the bus is ready, facilitating an opportunity for the players to meet their parents and family after the game and making sure the post-game meal is ready to go.
For Dr. Auld, if he has nothing to do, it’s a very good thing. Otherwise, it’s the time to further assess injuries and get some paperwork done, or assist with work around the dressing room.
Boyes is back getting laundry ready, checking up on what needs to get repaired equipment-wise. In case of an injury, he and Doug Stacey will come up with a plan to develop a special piece of equipment.
LAST ONE OUT TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS
Bryan Boyes is the one who turns off the lights in the Team Canada dressing room every day.
“It’s easy to deal with such professionals and mature athletes. It’s a real nice treat for me to work with these guys.
On a game day, when Canada has a 7pm start, he’s finally leaving the room at about 11:30 pm. He’s been in the rink for over sixteen hours. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.