Aug. 10th 2016 was the day I was hired to start work at Warrior Ice Arena. Thus I felt it was time to reflect upon year 1...
I often have thought lately how it's bananas that all of the people I see and interact with in my day-to-day life I didn't know a year ago. If you read the latest State of The Pich' Address you'll get why I remain optimistic to find other folks in the coming year. Last Spring when the job search began I could have never guessed it would end up where it did. I figure before we celebrate and look back at my first year at Warrior that it's important to look at how I got there...
So last spring I was job searching professionally for awhile. My best leads were the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and with a company called Rink Management Services Corporation who manages rinks all over the country. The guy I spoke with at RMSC said they were interested but that they weren't hiring for awhile. We continued to talk throughout the summer as I worked odd jobs like building cart corrals in grocery store parking lots, driving for Uber and eventually taking a part-time job at Endicott College working at Raymond J. Bourque Arena.
In case you were wondering about the Barclays gig... I was pretty sure I'd end up there. I had a phone interview which I felt went well. Then later worked out an NYC visit where I was supposed to have a face-to-face interview but then they claimed they had already made a hire and cancelled our interview.
I was so confident that I purchased an Islanders jersey off Ebay so I could eventually take a pic like I was being signed by the Isles. Sort of like I did with the Bucks Jersey when I moved to Wisconsin to work at the Bradley Center. In fact the day I was turned down for the 2nd interview was the day I was offered an interview at Endicott where I ended up starting a week later.
So I stared at a list of places that RMSC was hiring. See the pic for reference. I was wondering where I might move to next. What would be my next adventure? With Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia (where the company is based) on the list I figured a move was coming.
Eventually RMSC called about a rink in Brighton, MA. After setting up the interview I quickly googled it because not only did I have no idea where Brighton was, I also had no idea what Warrior Ice Arena was. It wasn't even finished being built yet at the time. I was very shaken... the new practice facility for the Boston Bruins. I mean if you could pick the top 5 places you'd least see me working in this industry this would have been easily #2 after only TD Garden. I'm a Montreal Canadiens fan if you don't know. Raised in a very stout anti-Boston household. A trait I carried the torch for heavily for a number of years. But I digress.
I went to the first interview and it was with a nice lady from RMSC. It went very well and I learned she was from Virginia and was a big Nationals fan so we talked Nats baseball for awhile and at one point I said to her that I'm not sure if I should work here... I'm a Canadiens fan. She said, "That's not a big deal." To which I replied "I think most would think otherwise." Regardless she said I'd have to meet again with the building manager and off I went. For the next week or so I struggled with whether or not I could work for the enemy. I mean technically not for them, but still sort of.
As I went in to meet Marissa and Pete for the first time on August 10th I had realized this was a shot a getting back in to a rink full-time. Regardless of who inhabits the building I had to be professional. I still remember when Marissa asked me if I was a Boston sports fan. I wish people I know could have seen that moment. Not because what I said was shocking or ground-breaking but just from a comedy setup perspective. I replied that I wasn't and that in fact to be honest I'm a Montreal Canadiens fan. I was assured that wouldn't be an issue and was offered the job on the spot which I accepted. It was raining that day which I took as a sign that my family was crying. I snapped a photo of me wearing dark hood outside Warrior Ice Arena as my "darkside-esque" tribute to celebrate the announcement.
Over the next month I got to know the people I was working for and with. We did a lot of setup. The building didn't even have cleaning supplies, finished ice surface, or tools when we began. I remember opening most of the 500 pairs of brand new rental skates in the skate rental room before the shelves were even constructed. The building didn't have opening ceremonies until the 8th of Sept and then opened to the public a couple days later. At one point during a walk-through of the opening ceremonies I was cast as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh which was another laughable moment for me.
I also got to learn the woes of traveling to Boston everyday for work from Nashua, NH. After that first month or so, I realized this place would be a good fit for me. I liked the people I worked with and for and decided it was time to move closer. Eventually in early Nov. I finally made my way to Allston right within walking distance of the rink. That moving thing will be chronicled more at a later date BTW.
So far over the time here I've added to the teams I've made ice for...
Boston College had a preseason game here. We had a D3 tourney, The NWHL Boston Pride (who were undefeated at home in their first season here) the Boston Fire vs. Boston Police game which I did the announcing for, Harvard practiced here before the Frozen Four. The Sabres, Jets, and Senators came through and then the Bruins of course. I've been part of commercials and was even in one for Dunkin Donuts. I've met plenty of players, agents, and even former Catamount Legend Martin St. Louis who was here coaching his son one day. A couple weeks ago a kind fella from North Chelmsford skated me over the goal and said hello. Some kid named Eichel. Zdeno Chara has startled me with his mere presence in areas just due to his large size but quite honestly I'm not sure theirs ever been a bigger ratio in how evil looking a man is to how nice he actually is. We've hosted all kind of events on and off the ice including the recent Warrior Stick Release Party, and even a 24-hour event! It's always something new and exciting here and that's part of why I like it.
All that stuff aside there were several challenges for me early on.
*We have 2 Olympia Ice Resurfacers rather than the more common Zambonis (Yes, Zamboni is a brand not the name of the machine). They are mostly the same... I miss the #ZamboniSelfie which gave way to the #OlympiaSelfie
*There was also having to learn what my boss wanted versus what I wanted. Taking a step back from my last full-time gig.
*Then of course all the annoying B's up everywhere. In fact I often hang them up in the office and anywhere. I don't wear my Habs stuff in the building while working unless I can find a sneaky way to... like an undershirt, or socks... maybe on a holiday or after the building closes... I respect the space. I know where I am. It's just tough to not be that guy that holds up the home team's uni with pride. In fact it still disgusts me.
*Being that Warrior is a brand and owned by New Balance we are not permitted to wear competing brands. Guess what 80% of my wardrobe was? Yeah... that. So I started dressing up for work. No logos on my dress shirts and sometimes when their are I tape over them, but making the adjustments for that was also taxing.
* And then just in general many growing pains for the building. There was no "well in the past we did this." There was no past. We just all collectively gathered stuff we had seen other places we had been. Never have I felt my many different places of work knowledge pay off so satisfyingly. As things have gone forward we've learned a lot and everything has gotten easier.
At some point I started to get more hours, more responsibility including doing the staff schedule, and recently I carved myself out a little area I was calling my office and then got jokingly verified by Marissa the other day... I mean sure it's the prep room for the Event Room but it isn't used too much... plus there are no Bruins logos in there so I like that.
One of my favorite things to do is work down in skate rental. I've gotten really good a sharpening skates and I love interacting with people handing out skates. It's a great place to work on my improv skills as I often at least get the staff to laugh even if my jokes soar over the heads of the intended.
I also love the variety of things I do. I don't just make ice. In fact just the idea of listing all the things I have done, or could do, in a day is so daunting that as I write this I decide to come up with this description to avoid listing all the things I do.
But honestly just like I said about the Piche Campus, with all I've said here about the first year I've left out at least 3 times as many stories. It's fun to work at a place with interesting things going on in and around it. The entire block is growing with the Celtics future practice facility going up right next door and an indoor track and field area across the road starting soon. It's quickly become a must-see spot for Boston sports fans and I'm sure the next year will have even more cool moments than the first.
I remember before the job search got in to full-swing. March 29th 2016 the day I was let go from my position at the Chelmsford Forum. The man who had come to break that news to me was telling me other places he knew would be hiring in the area as I packed my things. He mentioned the new Bruins practice facility and I said "Yeah I don't think that would be a good place for me." How wrong I'd end up being. I've been wrong before so that's not shocking, but actually moving to Boston and working here? A lot of days I still have head shaking moments because it's mind-blowing every day.
So basically that's been year one here for me at Warrior Ice Arena. I like where we've been and where we're going. When people ask how I handle working here being a Habs fan I say that it goes well. I never have to don the B in anyway, everyone is cordial about it, I might make an occasional joke but I'm not a dick about how many more cups the good guys have... I mean they are so cute with their little 6 banners (Montreal has 4 times as many)... but honestly it's led to fun conversations and because I'm not a Bruins fan I often walk right by people who are important without "geeking" out because I legitimately don't know who they are. I once offered to validate Torrey Krug's parking. He's smaller than me... didn't look like a hockey player to me. (He's a Bruins player if you don't know) Anyway you slice it I've said it before and I'll always stand by it. I'm not here for the team with the huge logo on the outside of the building. I'm here for the team that works inside it. I'll always continue to help us have the best ice, and facility for all who enter. From massive 7-foot NHL defensemen to 7-year-old first time skaters.