Worcester Sharks Equipment Sale – A View From the Inside

IMG_8635Article by Steve Conway, an Equipment Staff Member with the Worcester Sharks.

What happens when a team is being relocated the following season to the opposite side of the country and is being forced to unload everything possible?….

An “Everything Must Go” final equipment sale is the end result in an attempt to clear out a messy locker room piled with stuff. The one day sale provided many locals the opportunity to obtain some one of a kind pieces that have been hidden gems within the DCU Center since the team’s arrival back in 2006 and will took place on May 9, 2015 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.

As collectors, we go to these Equipment Sales trying to see what we can find from our favorite players to add to our collections, but what happens when you’re the one working behind the scenes to get everything prepared for the madness?

Before we get to the Equipment Sale aspect of things, I want to shed some light on who I am and reflect on what my time with the Sharks has been like. This past season, my Worcester Sharks experience came full-circle as I was given the opportunity to become the team’s Visiting Team Locker Room Attendant. In past years, I was a season ticket holder for 8 years and wound up only missing a few games over that time. My life revolved around the team and I was honored to be given the chance to get a head start in working with a professional hockey team.  My tasks included assisting the team playing the Sharks on a nightly basis, whether it’s loading in equipment or getting their locker rooms organized so they can focus on playing the game. I would help make sure they had everything needed to succeed and would assist them in every aspect of the game. Although, this may be a challenge to some, I accepted the opportunity with open arms and was willing to do whatever necessary to make my name known throughout the league. With the season finally over, It really is a grind that makes you appreciate what these guys go through on a daily basis. Whether it’s a huge win, crushing defeat or a day of hard practice, the players come to the rink every day and do whatever they can to be their  best. Not many people get the chance to see what happens behind the scenes and it was really an amazing experience that I will forever be grateful for. I could go on about the experiences throughout the year, but enough about me and back to the equipment sale side of things.

Similar to not seeing what happens behind the scenes of a hockey game, not many people will know how much work actually goes into creating one of these extravagant sales. The preparation starts throughout the season as different players decide if they like certain equipment, need new gear or end up changing something with the abuse taken on a game to game basis. Equipment is mainly ordered at the beginning of the season, depending on what has been used and leftover from previous seasons. If a certain piece runs low, the new order will replenish the stock to keep the teams prepared for anything. Most players will continue using the same gear year to year, unless it is worn down too much and needs to be replaced. On the other hand,  skates are a whole different animal where players can request multiple pairs per year, which helps them to be at the top of their game at all times.

Sticks are another weird piece of equipment due to how much they are used throughout the game. Players will receive anywhere from 12 to 24 and on some instances more, depending on how many they tend to break or their style of play. Some guys tend to also adapt their sticks and like to try various flex, patterns and other features throughout a season. For the most part, the uniforms such as Jerseys and Socks will be ordered every year along with some practice jerseys that need to be updated after being used.

Typically one set of jerseys has been used for the last few seasons with a backup made up in case a guy tends to fight and needs a major repair. Other instances of multiple sets made include the AHL Authentic Auctions and if something special occurs in the jersey. Specialty jerseys and socks are also ordered by the equipment staff in order to be prepared for the game at hand, the fonts, number styles and other characteristics are picked out in advance and typically there are a few extras made up in case of call-ups or injuries. One player will wear two specialty jerseys per that specific game with the AHL Authentic Auctions as well. As you can see, there is a lot that goes into just making sure the team has the gear needed to perform throughout the year and that does not include player apparel such as underwear, tracksuits, staff jackets and other needs.

Moving on to the organization of the gear for the sale includes a vast variety of tasks. Prior to the sale, an inventory of all items available or being put available for sale should be listed out accordingly. However, with the season usually still going on while the sales ideas are being constructed, it is tough to gauge what actually will sell.  For example, I know Chris (our equipment manager) had a meeting with the merchandise manager and other front office staff to go over the plans and ideas of what the parameters of the event would be like while our season was still being played. With that, a good portion of the organization can not be completed until after the season. However, an inventory list can still help give an idea of some items that will go.

Throughout the season, players will sometimes like getting new gear after their other items have been worn down from use, which creates some potential items that make it to the sale. For example, gloves and skates are some of the most commonly changed things by players as they go through a lot of abuse on the ice. Every time a player gets a new piece of equipment, the old item can be eventually sold and put back into the team’s budget for the upcoming season.  With 24 to 30 plus players per team the gear sometimes accumulates pretty rapidly and even sometimes players who get brought up have other gear that gets taken and sold at the sale. An example of this can be seen with one of my purchases which was Bryan Lerg’s Colorado Avalanche Equipment Bag, where Lerg played with the organization last season which meant he didn’t need it any longer with the Worcester players getting to keep their bags. Some other bags that were available included Karl Stollery Avalanche, Konrad Abeltshauser Halifax Mooseheads, Evan Trupp Alaska Aces, Troy Grosenick Cedar Rapids Rough Riders (i think) plus a few more. Random items can always be found at these sales which makes it interesting from the usual equipment thrown everywhere! Moving along in the season, the gear will continue to accumulate until the final game has been played and the player’s clean out their lockers to head home for the summer.

Once Clean-Out day occurs, this is when the bulk of the work starts to happen. Inventory of what is left from the current season and sometimes previous years is accounted for and organized into various sections to eventually be brought to the sale location. Everything is put into groupings of items which makes it easy to track and set it up for the big day. skates, pants, gloves, clothing, socks, jerseys, sticks and more are all placed in specific areas.  In the case of the Sharks sale this year, there was more inventory than usual available due to the move.

When the Sale day comes, the chaos begins. Although everything is organized inside the Sharks dressing room, it all has to be brought up to the main entrance of the DCU Center which sometimes can be a challenge. Going through the hallway by the dressing room, then up the elevator to the concourse and rolling everything to the pavilion takes a great deal of effort and time. I arrived at around 9 AM to help set up, and everything was looking good to be brought up. We were able to grab a few things if needed, then the process of moving the items from the locker room to the pavilion began. The sale was slated to begin at 10:45 AM for season ticket holders which did not leave much time for a set up. One by one, the carts full of gear would be wheeled upstairs and organized on various tables that were positioned in the pavilion in order to generate the best results. Each piece of equipment had a designated area which made it easy to navigate and find what you were looking for.

As 10:45 approached, we were finishing jersey pricing and taking off the rack Home White’s that were already sold at the April 19th Regular Season Finale Auction. This left a handful of white jerseys and a large amount of teal. However, the pricing was different than other years. In years past, it would be one set price of $150 for game jerseys, but this year, no eBay auction made it interesting and the pricing ranged from $175 to $450. Whether it was a rising star, draft pick or not a very big name, pricing was decided this way.

Pricing for any given item was placed on a sign that was next to or underneath where it was placed  on the table at the sale. This made it easy to figure out what each item cost and how much people would actually be spending. Below, I have included a picture of one price list from the sale. However, that list is not 100% percent accurate as some things were different prices and a lot of the items are not even listed there.

We finally finished and the doors would open a few minutes after the 10:45 original start time.  With the slight delay, opening was pushed a few minutes but only a certain amount of people were let in at a time, like 20 or so could start looking then more would be allowed. As usual, people swarmed the jersey rack and locker room plates among other gear. The chaos was finally on! People were everywhere and stuff was being grabbed from every direction.  Since I was the locker room attendant and the Hartford vs Hershey games 3 and 4 were being played in the DCU Center I only saw about an hour of the sale, I busy helping to move the Wolf Pack in for the games.

Although, I would have loved to grab other items, I was extremely happy with my haul none the less. I couldn’t complain, that’s for sure!  I ended up with a couple jerseys, gloves, locker plates, bag tags, laundry bags and many more items but that would not be the only haul I would get. After Hartford was moved in and the sale came to a close, the battleground would be surveyed and the damage was done. Many of the gloves, skates and some other items were gone other than some random pairs. The pants and socks only had small quantities left over. As we packed everything up and wheeled it into the weight room, another equipment sale had ended. With that being said,  I would pick up some more things in the coming days and following the two games at the DCU, everything was completed and it was time to make the move official, one step at a time….