He’s been with the Carolina Hurricanes’ franchise since 1972. Now he plans to retire.

By Chip Alexander. The Carolina Hurricanes could soon be losing their longest tenured employee.

Equipment manager Skip Cunningham, who has been with the hockey franchise since 1972, plans to retire, Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said in an interview with The News & Observer Monday. Click here to read more…

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Skip Cunningham
Equipment Manager, Carolina Hurricanes

SPHEM: What got you started in the equipment profession and how did you get your start in Professional Hockey?

SC: I was raised very close to the Northeastern University Athletic field. I hung out there quiet a bit and athletics became a huge part of my life.

I worked at Boston University before attending Northeastern University. It was at Northeastern that I met and worked for Jack Kelly who went on to be the Coach and General Manager of the WHA New England Whalers.

SPHEM: You?ve been an Equipment Manager for 45 years. What do you attest to your longevity in this career?

SC: I?d say I?m very blessed to be in this career for so long. I?d also say, I?ve had luck on my side. I?ve been lucky to stay a part of this organization with changes in ownership, management, coaches and locations and lucky to work with such great people.

SPHEM: The field has changed and advanced quite a bit since you started in 1972 with the New England Whalers. What change/advancement where you most happy to see?

SC: The equipment has become so much more advanced over the years. It?s lighter, easier to use and more protective for our players, which has been a real plus for this sport and decreased injuries.

SPHEM: Is there any change or advancement you?d still like to see?

SC: I would love to see less breakage in the sticks and equipment that is less costly. I also feel the helmet protection should catch up with other sports, i.e. Football.

SPHEM: You?ve worked with quite an impressive roster of players. Have any influenced your career for the better, if so how?

SC: I was fortunate to work with many! In the last year of the WHA we had, 4 Hall of Fame players, Gordie Howe, Mark Howe, Bobby Hull & Dave Keon, who was named the #1 Leaf of all-time. Not only were they great players, they were wonderful people. Getting to know some of the best players in the sport has definitely influenced my career for the better.

Being in the company of such great people, makes the job easier.

SPHEM: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the Hockey Equipment Management field?

SC: Listen, learn, and have a great rapport with your players.

SPHEM: What has been your most memorable moment as an Equipment Manager?

SC: Without question, winning the Stanley Cup!

SPHEM: What legacy would you like to leave in the Hockey world?

SC: I?d like to think I?ve established many great friendships, many of which have become like family.

David Ortiz & Skip with the Stanley Cup

Skip?s Grandchildren
Jayden, Ryan & Brayden

SPHEM: What is something most members would not know about you?

SC: I come from a baseball family! Hockey wasn?t originally my sport, baseball was. My cousin even played for the Los Angeles Angels for many years

Skip enjoys spending time with his grandkids on the baseball fields and hockey rinks. His favorite hobby is reading. He will read anything he can get his hands on? books, magazines, newspapers. He also enjoys hiking and going to church. He?s involved with collecting food & clothing for the homeless.