Equipment manager Jimmy Heintzelman shows us where the skates get sharpened.
By Matt Pollock
Published April 13, 2016
Behind every NHL team is a skein of other teams—doctors, publicists, and right behind the bench, equipment guys. It’s a team that Jimmy Heintzelman, 46, joined in 2009, when he came to the Blackhawks from the Rockford IceHogs and the Grand Rapids Griffins before that. “On a typical game day, I’ll work from 7 a.m. to midnight,” says Heintzelman, who does everything from sharpening skates to laundry for the squad. “The hours can be rough—but there’s nothing like seeing your name on that Cup.” Ahead of the ’Hawks first-round face-off with the Blues tonight, Heintzelman gave us a tour of the team’s equipment room.
“I’m one of three equipment managers for the Blackhawks,” says Heintzelman. “Here I’m adding a wood extension to a stick. That’s adhesive I’m heating up with the blowtorch.”
“The hardest part of the job was learning to sew. Guys like Andrew Shaw who play rough really tear up their jerseys, and each guy wears the same one night after night.”
“Most of what I do is sharpen skates—that’s the sharpener back there. Bigger guys like Dennis Rasmussen like a duller blade for more glide, while smaller guys like a sharper edge so they can cut. The sharpest I have is Crawford.”
“We also have a riveter to tighten up the rivets that hold the blades on the skates.”
“That skate [on the left] is on the boot stretcher. We’ll use it to stretch out a boot if a player gets a sore spot—usually on the ball of his toe.”
“Here I’m sharpening Patrick Kane’s skate. He uses black steel blades, which have a much harder edge. They help him turn on a dime.”
“He has eight sets with his name and number engraved on them.”