There’s equipment to order. Sticks. Skates. Pucks. Uniforms. Coffee.
Oh yeah, coffee. Hockey players drink a lot of coffee.
Ironically, Chris Davidson-Adams, the man responsible for seeing the Golden Knights are properly equipped to play their inaugural NHL season this fall, isn’t much of a coffee drinker. Never mind he could be putting in 16- to 18-hour days from September until at least April. Davidson-Adams keeps so busy he doesn’t have time to get tired.
“This is a true labor of love,” he said. “I love working with equipment. I love working with budgets and getting the team to where they’re looking sharp.”
The 37-year-old from Michigan has been dealing with hockey equipment and locker rooms since he was 16 and filling water bottles for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He had worked in the NHL for five years as the assistant equipment manager for the Dallas Stars and most recently he was the head equipment man for the American Hockey League’s San Jose Barracuda.
His responsibilities are wide-ranging. One minute, he’s sharpening someone’s skates. The next, he’s grabbing a pair of hockey socks for someone else. He’ll be responsible for assigning the numbers the players will wear. There’s always laundry to be done, and he’ll need everything just right in not one but two venues.
There’s the team’s practice facility currently under construction adjacent to Downtown Summerlin. When it opens for business in August, Davidson-Adams will have the locker room well stocked along with the players’ lounge, coaches’ offices and video room.
Then there’s the Knights’ locker room at T-Mobile Arena where the process repeats itself. He and his staff will have the room ready for game night along with assisting the visiting team with its needs. And don’t forget the on-ice officials working the game.
“Fortunately, we’re not that far apart,” he said of the distance between the team’s practice rink and arena.
But Davidson-Adams admitted this is not your normal season. His budget is approximately $2 million as he needs to purchase everything the team will require to operate.
“You’re basically starting from scratch,” he said. “You’re ordering everything and when it comes to sizes, you’re guessing because you don’t know who is going to be playing.
“But we’ll be ready once we have our roster. I’ve been working with manufacturers since I got here and because everything is custom-made, it takes time. There’s a lot of education on my part and I’m relying on my experience to make sure we have everything the players need to succeed.”
General manager George McPhee said for an important position as Davidson-Adams’ experience was critical.
“You need someone who is very detail-oriented,” McPhee said. “Chris is very good at what he does, and he fits into the culture we’re trying to establish. He’s very selfless and will put the team first and do right by the players and the coaches.”
Senior vice president Murray Craven, who identified Davidson-Adams as the right guy, saw someone who had a proven track record and wouldn’t be afraid of a challenge.
“What impressed me was how organized he is,” Craven said. “When you’re starting from scratch like we are, you need someone who is organized. He went through the same thing when the San Jose Barracuda started and he came highly recommended from them Mike Aldrich, the Sharks’ equipment manager, couldn’t say enough good things about Chris, and I value Mike’s opinion.”
Davidson-Adams said he tries to anticipate potential problems before they manifest themselves.
“Nothing’s easy, no matter what the job is,” he said. “If you’re prepared, it’s going to make the job easy. You can never be too organized.
“But no matter how organized you are, there’s always going to be something that comes up. We could draft Joe Blow who is an odd size I never saw coming. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
For equipment managers, sleep is an underrated commodity. Davidson-Adams says he can get by with a few hours’ rest and he has learned how to sleep on planes and buses to try and make up the difference.
“I think the most understanding person in the world is my wife, Kelly,” he said. “She understands my job. But the 18-hour days are definitely the hardest thing.”
In the five months they’ve been in Las Vegas, Davidson-Adams and his wife have loved it. Like most of the team’s organization, they’ve settled in Summerlin to be close to the practice facility and the team’s offices.
“It’s been so awesome and welcoming,” he said. “There’s so much to do here. It’s much more than the Strip. We like to hike and there’s a lot of great outdoor areas around Las Vegas.”
And with the NHL expansion draft and entry draft three weeks away, Davidson-Murray is keeping busy. He may not know sizes. But he knows he’s going to have a lot of players to outfit and he promises to be ready.
“The short turnaround is the big challenge,” he said. “We’ll go from two players to 48 in two weeks. But my job is to take away any excuses and give our players the best chance to be successful.”
Contact Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.