Manchester is a sports loving city! The Manchester Monarchs bring the thrill of hockey to the Queen City throughout the fall and winter months. Recently, Red Oak was invited for a behind the scenes tour of the Verizon Arena to find out about the inner workings of the team and the amazing facility that they call home.
We were greeted at the rear of the arena by Matt Johnson, the Coordinator of Public Relations for the Monarchs, to begin our Insider Tour! Matt led us through a labyrinth of hallways under the stands to reach the Monarch’s Locker room. The hallways were lined with framed newspaper articles about the many Monarch victories and noteworthy accomplishments.
As we approached the locker area we noticed that the floors were covered with rubber mats to protect the hockey players’ skates as they hurry throughout the hallways during games and practices.
Of note during this part of the tour was a workbench in the hall. This is where players customize their equipment to fit their requirements. For instance, did you know that all hockey sticks come in one length? The players cut them down or add extensions to them to match their height requirements. There was a large arrangement of blowtorches, files, adhesives and tools for the players to work with. There was also a curtain across the hallway here. Matt explained that this is a sort of “line in the sand” during games. The opposing team and their coaches have their locker room on the other side of the curtain. Players cannot pass through the curtain during game time. Interesting! Next Matt took us into the “dry room.” If any of you know a hockey player, you know that their equipment can get pretty sweaty and smelly. Players do not want their street clothes to absorb this smell so they change in the dry room before entering the main locker room.
We were astounded at the amazing job the LA Kings did at outfitting the Monarchs’ Locker Room. Matt told us that their locker room is the best in the ECHL. The room has padded benches (Do you know why the Goalie has a wider bench to sit on?), personalized stalls and a shoe lace bar. The whole locker room exudes a mood of purpose and triumph. We witnessed the equipment managers stocking the area, visited the training room, gym, player lounge and laundry area.
Matt took us rink side to The Bench and we watched the players finishing up with practice. Assistant Coach Jeff Giuliano stopped by and spoke with us about his long time as a player for the Monarchs and other teams. He explained that the current roster of players hail from all over the world, with players coming from Canada, throughout Europe and the United States. Their ages range from 20 to 30. Jeff is very hopeful for the upcoming playoffs and his team’s chances for bringing the Kelly Cup to Manchester.
If you like hockey a great game is never far from your Red Oak Apartment.