SPHEM Member Spotlight – Bobby Hastings
Bobby Hastings – Head Equipment Manager, Toronto Maple Leafs
SPHEM: What made you want a career in the equipment management profession and how did you get your start?
BH: To be honest, I didn’t even know this career existed. It wasn’t until I was in Grade 11 at St. Michael’s College School that the path to being an equipment manager presented itself, and I started working with the school’s junior A varsity and major junior teams. In 2001, I was hired by the Maple Leafs as an equipment assistant, and the rest is history.
SPHEM: You began with Toronto in 2001 as an Equipment Assistant and worked your way to Head Equipment Manager in 2020. What surprised you most about the Head Equipment Manager role?
BH: Nothing particularly surprised me about the job itself. It was more the amount of leadership and oversight required, some of those day-to-day managerial tasks that hadn’t been on my plate before.
SPHEM: Equipment managers are known to think fast on their feet. Can you share your favorite hack or DIY creation in an equipment emergency?
BH: Equipment managers are often in a position where we have to think quickly. Fortunately, we are regularly surrounded by other great managers at every stop who can provide any materials necessary to solve a problem. For instance, when we trade for a player while on the road, we rely on the local crestor contact to get the new player set up in a jersey and make that transition seamless.
SPHEM: Good relationships with vendors are key to getting your players what they need. What advice can you give to equipment managers, just starting out, to build those relationships?
BH: The best approach is to cultivate relationships with every vendor you can, big or small. You never know who you might have to contact down the road or where people you meet with will be working at a given time. Establishing a trusting rapport with as many people as possible will only benefit you in the long run.
SPHEM: What is the most challenging aspect of the equipment profession these days? What advice can you give to others who may be working through this challenge as well?
BH: The equipment profession has become a 24/7 job. There are no days off, only days away from the rink. The words I have come to live by are, expect the unexpected. Preparedness is key. My goal is to be ready for any curveball that hits and doing that starts with anticipating challenges before they even come around.
SPHEM: How has belonging to SPHEM and attending the annual meeting helped you professionally?
BH: The annual conference is about education and connections. Yes, we see others in our field on road trips but it’s not the same opportunity to truly discuss the business and build those relationships that are so critical to our overall success with the largest diversity of contacts available to us.
SPHEM: What is your favorite NHL city to visit on the road and why?
BH: Tampa Bay because I love warm weather.
SPHEM: Who have been your mentors over the years and what is the best professional advice they have given you?
BH: Brian Papineau gave me my start with the Leafs, and we worked together for 20 years. He was instrumental to my overall development. Darren Granger, Paul Boyer and Pat O’Neill are all people I’ve looked up to since I was the visiting team liaison with Toronto and I’ve strived to emulate the standard they’ve set in their careers.
SPHEM: What do you want your peers to know about you that they don’t already know?
BH: I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but raised in Toronto and was a lifelong Maple Leafs fan before getting a chance to work for them. I’m also a diehard Notre Dame football fan. Go Irish!
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by great friends and family in Toronto, including my wife Kristen. Without that backbone of support in my life I know I couldn’t give all that I do to my career. For that I am extremely grateful. I’m also lucky she shares my passion for sports, especially golf, which we love to do together in the offseason.
All photos courtesy of Bobby Hastings.