SPHEM Member Spotlight – Jeff Lang￼
Jeff Lang, Head Equipment Manager, Edmonton Oilers
SPHEM: What got you started in the equipment profession and how did you get your start in Professional Hockey?
JL: I took the Athletic Therapy Diploma Program through Mount Royal College in Calgary Alberta from 1994 – 1997 and my first practicum placement was with the Calgary Midget AAA Flames. The Father David Bauer Arena had the Midget AAA Flames, Calgary Junior A Royals and Hockey Canada so I essentially moved down the hall joining each team. I joined Hockey Canada in 1999 when Gus Thorson left for the Calgary Flames and started working IIHF tournaments in Europe with the Men’s Program and the U18 Men’s Program. My start in the NHL came in 2002 when I started helping Barrie Stafford organize equipment for the players selected for the Men’s Olympic Team. I ended up spending a month in Salt Lake City which is where I met Kevin Lowe and a year later, my wife and I joined the Oilers organization when I took a position as Barrie’s Assistant Equipment Manager.
SPHEM: You have experience in both the Athletic Training field and Equipment Management. What made you ultimately decide to practice Equipment Management, and would you ever go back to Athletic Training?
JL: When I started working on the Junior A team, I realized how much I enjoyed being in the locker room around the guys and wanting less and less to be in the clinic. At this level, I was required to do both equipment and Athletic Therapy but when I joined Hockey Canada, I did just equipment and clinic hours weren’t required. I found I enjoyed Equipment Management more, so I let my hours and professional association go. After 21-years of being out of the Athletic Therapy side, I have no desire to return. So much has changed in the field that what I learned back then likely isn’t as relevant today.
SPHEM: What has been the greatest moment in your professional hockey career?
JL: My greatest moment so far was making it to the Stanley Cup final in 2006.
SPHEM: In your opinion, what has been the greatest advancement in Equipment Management, and what would you still like to see?
JL: Quick release steel for skates because you don’t lose the players from the game to have to go sharpen skates. I would like to see a fast and good way to fix a broken skate lace that often happens during a game
SPHEM: After two years of virtual meetings, we are all looking forward to Marco Island, FL. What are you most looking forward to at this June’s Conference?
JL: Having the guys all together in person to catch up outside of the rink. With all the restrictions within the last few years, we haven’t always been able to see them when we are at the rink so will be great to be back to a sense of normalcy.
SPHEM: What is one characteristic you feel is important in the role of Equipment Manager at any level of hockey?
JL: Character – positive attitude, good communication, ability to adapt to situations, hardworking and willing to work long hours.
SPHEM: Even though you don’t often get a lot of time in the cities you travel to, what is one of your favorite hockey cities to visit and why?
JL: Nashville no doubt. Who doesn’t like Nashville?
SPHEM: Do you have a professional mentor or Equipment Manager you admire?
JL: Barrie Stafford because he taught me so much about the job and how to deal with different players. Barrie was a huge advocate for me when I took over and was still there after for advice if/when I needed it. Barrie’s relationship with the players that came and went was always something I strived for.
SPHEM: What advice would you give your younger self if you were just starting in professional hockey?
JL: My oldest son, Hunter (18) has decided he would like to follow in my footsteps and is currently working with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. I find myself telling him to take it all in because you never know what could happen. Enjoy every minute, be yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff.
SPHEM: What do you enjoy doing during the off-season?
JL: Spending time with my family usually travelling somewhere to reconnect after being apart for majority of the season. Me and my sons also spend a lot of time golfing, boating and going on a boy’s trip. There is also usually a renovation or two and a list of things for me to catch up on.
Tell us about yourself, your family, and your hobbies.
I was born in Davidson, Saskatchewan and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan and I am the youngest of three. I played hockey most of my childhood until the age of 20 and knew I wanted to remain in the sport somehow so found a way to do that. I met my wife, Paula in Regina and we moved to Calgary together in 1994 to attend school. Paula is a Social Worker, and we have two boys, Hunter (18) and Adam (16) who have both played AA/AAA hockey. We are a hockey family but when the off season comes, we sure enjoy the downtime away from the rink and the schedules.
All photos courtesy of Jeff Lang.