Hard At Work Behind The Scenes
Before I became involved with the organization as a Devil’s Army General, I really didn’t think much about the behind the scenes aspects of running a hockey club. You see the players and coaches on the bench, you can watch the Zamboni crew between periods, you hear about general manager’s making roster changes, and maybe even the owner or president will pop in and out of TV broadcasts and press releases. The truth is there is an unbelievable amount of people behind the scenes, often doing the work of even more people that I never even imagined as a fan.
I arrived at the Prudential Center a couple minutes before 6 AM on January 31st to sneak a peak at the team behind the team in action, while they were hosting the WPIX channel 11 morning news to talk hockey. The TV spots lasted mere minutes but each was coordinated by people near and far with precision. We packed into the small space usually reserved during games for the Zamboni to come on and off the ice. Involved in the broadcast, in particular order, were the Devils Dancers, NJ Devil, Devil alumni Grant Marshall, and ice technician Nick Kryshak, and of course WPIX’s own Lisa Mateo sporting a brand new, gorgeous Mateo #11 Devils sweater. There are rumors we might see her around the rink a few more times this season with some cool stories…
The coordination for this promo spot was unreal. Before I had even arrived, Public Relations Manager Kerry was already on scene while the WPIX truck was getting their boom set up to transmit the signal back to their studio and production staff. Besides Kerry, there were already security guards around and a couple building operations personnel as well on hand to assist with things like the house lights, electricity needs, and anything else that pop up. In addition to the promo spot, this was also a game day. There were people walking around the arena, checking everything from ice temperature and air humidity to the tightness of bolts in the stands. The amount of work that can be happening in different parts of the arena all at the same time and with a live TV broadcast going on was kind of amazing to see. Everyone there has a job to do, and they all want it done right.
As everyone’s getting setup to shoot, the Devil’s Dancers arrived, looking surprisingly happy and very limber for this early hour. The time they spent making sure the spot was going to be perfect, and the quick changes to their routines they did on the spot to accommodate both the shot and the time slot they had to fill was nothing short of impressive. Some people may critique their place at a hockey game, but after seeing their attitude and attention to detail, even at 7AM, they truly are the definition of professionals at what they do.
Nick got WPIX host Lisa all setup on the back of the newly wrapped Lawns by Yorkshire Zamboni for some teaser shots, where they show what is coming up on the news. An interview with Nick followed where Lisa got to drill him about his job. In between her interview and just being around Nick for a short amount of time this morning I can’t believe how many hours these guys put in at the ‘office’. Besides the obvious ice cuts on the Zamboni during intermissions, there’s a whole crew that watches after the ice conditions on both the main rink as well as the AmeriHealth Pavilion. Every. Single. Day. They’re constantly making sure the Devils and so many other teams like the New Jersey Rockets and East Side High have the best possible playing surface, and their pride in their job really shows through if you ever get the opportunity to chat with Nick or his team.
Next up for Lisa was Grant Marshall. Ever the humble gentlemen, he got quizzed a bit on his background in hockey. I have to admit, seeing Stanley Cup ring speaks volumes. They both put on some skates and found some sticks to take shots on net, which was quickly occupied by NJ Devil. There was some trash talking, but it was kind of one sided since NJ doesn’t really talk much. They both got a couple of nice shots in, with Grant pulling a wrister top shelf on a not quite completely ready NJ. Being only a couple feet away from NHL caliber shot was something else, I can’t imagine standing in front of it as calmly as goalies do. Lisa also learned how to take a wrist shot, and managed to fair pretty well against the mascot-turned-goalie. Truth be told, I think NJ was just too much of a nice guy to stop all her shots. Her scoring made for better television anyways.
After the on-ice spots, the morning started wrapping up. Nick was taking some readings of the ice and air, and getting ready to do a couple ice cuts before the Devils showed up for the morning skate. Kerry was thanking everyone and trying to send everyone off with left-over coffee and donuts. The Devils Dancers were doing some more practice, before resting up for the game where they planned to show off a new dance routine. And NJ Devil, well, I’m not really sure what he’s up to before the game, and that’s probably for the best. I’m sure he has a full day in the office , but you never really know.
All in all, it takes an even bigger team to run the team you see on the ice. There’s so much that goes into it that you might realize until you stop to think about it. From public relations to marketing, operations to hockey guys, to ticket sales and fan experience reps, it’s great to see these people all back to doing what they love following their extended summer away from the game. If this is how well they’re all working together only a few weeks in, I can’t wait to see where the Devils logo will pop up next.
Posted on February 6, 2013, in Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, The Rock and tagged Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, The Rock, WPIX. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.