Tony Da Costa, Head Equipment Manager, Minnesota Wild
SPHEM: What got you started in the equipment profession and how did you get your start in Professional Hockey.
TD: When I was 13 the Winnipeg Jets practices were open to the public. I would go all the time and I met Pat O?Neil who was the Assistant Equipment Manager for the Jets. I would ask him if I could help and I just started going to as many practices and games that I could. I never would?ve thought that I would be doing this for a living. I wanted to play in the NHL like every other Canadian kid. I just kept working my way up from dressing room attendant and then becoming one of the Assistants for the Jets.
SPHEM: Tell us about your time with Winnipeg when the team moved to Phoenix. What was something you learned being part of that transition that has helped you since.
TD: I was fortunate to be part of the staff from Winnipeg to move with the team to Phoenix. We weren?t an expansion team but it was a new NHL team start up. This definitely helped me when I got the Head Equipment job in Minnesota.
SPHEM: You?ll reach 2,000 games this year, congratulations! What does this accomplishment mean to you?
TD: The biggest thing in reaching 2000 games is that you have to love doing what you do. I have a real passion for hockey and I still love doing what I do.
SPHEM: You gave us a tour of your new practice facility last year. After some time in the new space what improvements have you found the most beneficial?
TD: The biggest benefit is now having a place to go to everyday rather that hitting different local rinks to practice at. We move enough equipment on the road and it has been great not having to do it at home anymore.
SPHEM: Travel is such a huge part of this profession. What is one of your favorite hockey cities to visit and why?
TD: I love going to Vancouver and Montreal. They are great cities and the environment at the games is unreal.
SPHEM: What skills do you think a young equipment manager would need in today?s fast changing world of professional hockey?
TD: I think the biggest skill is to be able to be open to change and manage the different personalities of the players and management. Players need a lot more these days and that adds more pressure to the job.
SPHEM: What advice would you give your younger self if you were just starting in professional hockey?
TD: I think that if I knew earlier that this s a great career to be in I would?ve taken this job more serious earlier.
SPHEM: Do you have a professional mentor or Equipment Manager you admire?
TD: Yes I have 3 people that I look up to. Pat O?Neil because he got me into this.
Craig (Zinger) Heizinger for allowing me to grow in my job and Stan Wilson for teaching me so much and getting me ready to be a Head guy in the NHL. I learned different things from all of them.
SPHEM: What is one thing other Members would be surprised to know about you?
TD: I think that I am a hockey nerd. I watch a lot of hockey and I always know what?s going on in the league. I can?t get enough. I am also into cars ? anything that I am driving is always for sale.
Tell us about yourself, your family and your hobbies.
I think that I am an easy going person and I love to have fun. I love the pranks that go on daily and a lot of the time I am part of them.
I have been married for 22 years and with my wife June for 30 years. We have 2 daughters, Summer is in her second year of college and Rylee is in 8th grade.
I enjoy working out, golfing and riding motorcycles.
Photos courtesy of Tony Da Costa