By Tim Leroy
Head Equipment Manager, Columbus Blue Jackets
SPHEM: What got you started in the equipment profession and how did you get your start in Professional Hockey?
TL: I grew up playing hockey in Michigan and enjoyed it so much I started helping the Western Michigan hockey team as a stick boy when I was in Junior High and that?s when I realized I enjoyed the equipment side of the sport. While I was attending college at Western Michigan I volunteered to help the Equipment staff of the local IHL team, the Kalamazoo Wings. That led me
to meeting many people within the industry and when a new franchise opened in the IHL in Kanas City, MO I applied for the Head Equipment Manager role and got it. I worked there for 3 years before moving on to work for the NHL starting with the Florida Panthers.
SPHEM: You?ve been with Columbus since their inaugural season in 2000. What can you attest to your longevity with the organization?
TL: I have a great team of people around me and we all understand that hard work and integrity play a crucial role in working at this level of professionalism. We know what we have to do to make things run smoothly and we stick to a system that works for us and those we serve.
SPHEM: Do you think the Equipment Manager?s roll has changed since you started with Columbus in 2000? If so, how?
TL: Well, like most industries things have certainly changed from a paper format to a digital format which is supposed to make things easier but sometimes it actually adds more work. The League has more mandates than it used to which also adds to the workload. There are more things to keep track of and report on than ever before. The equipment has also changed over the years. Equipment has gotten lighter and more modified than it used to be which is good and bad. The game has gotten a lot faster in the last few years as well.
SPHEM: You reached 2,000 professional games worked this season. Congratulations! What did it feel like to reach that milestone and how did you celebrate?
TL: It felt like, ?Whoa ? how old am I?? In all seriousness though, it?s been a great industry to forge a career in ? I wouldn?t want to be doing anything else! I was treated to a great night out in celebration by my fellow coworkers.
SPHEM: Prior to joining the Blue Jackets, you spent 6 years in Florida, 1 year with San Jose and 3 in the IHL. How have your experiences with these other organizations helped you in your career?
TL: I guess I have become the ?expansion? guy. Kansas City, Florida and Columbus were all new expansion teams and Florida and Columbus had new buildings to contend with as well, so starting from scratch tends to educate you quickly and help you be extra detailed with the decision-making process.
SPHEM: What do you look forward to most when attending the PHATS/SPHEM Annual Conference each year?
TL: Seeing everyone and catching up with the vendors to learn about new advancements and ways to improve our day-to-day jobs.
SPHEM: Who have been your mentors over the years and how have they inspired you?TL: This is an interesting question. I feel in a way that everyone around me helped to mentor me in that I wanted to do a good job at my job and not let anyone down. Whether it was people in mentoring positions above me like David ?Sudsy? Settlemyre or Mark ?Peaches? Brennen or players, coaches or management; I wanted to be sure everyone had what they needed from me and my fellow staffers.
SPHEM: What are your future goals and aspirations?
TL: Like everyone else in the business, it would be great to win a Stanley Cup! However, I will also settle for mentoring those around me and for inspiring young hockey players like my son and his teammates to not only enjoy playing the sport but learning the fundamental lessons surrounding the sport that helps them become better young professionals as well.
SPHEM: What is something most members would not know about you?
TL: While working for the Kansas City Blades, Arthurs Irbe got called up to San Jose at the last minute and I had to suit up as the backup goalie, but still continue to be the Equipment Manager, for a road game in Salt Lake City.
Tim grew up in Kalamazoo, MI where he started playing hockey at the age of 10. He liked the goalie position and played throughout high school until he moved onto a junior team in Jackson, MI.
He met his wife Angie while working for the Florida Panthers and shortly after they were married in Wisconsin and heading to Ohio for his job with the Blue Jackets.
They have one son, Kolter, he?s now 11 and spent the last season playing for the 2007 AAA Ohio Blue Jackets as ? you probably guessed it ? a goalie!
Tim and his son love playing golf in the summer and spending time taking care of their puppy, Goldie and their Russian Tortoise, Kiwi.