WILKES-BARRE — In sports, we hear about minor league players moving up to the big leagues all the time. When they do, it’s a big deal.
But it’s not just the people on the field, the court, or in this case the rink that get called up. It’s also the people in the locker rooms.
“When you get those bags folded up, we’ll get them ready to sell.”
The season is over for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but head equipment manager Teddy Richards keeps moving. Soon this native of Wilkes-Barre will be moving five hours away. After 11 years with the baby Penguins, he’s been called up to be the equipment manager for the big Pens, the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.
“Whatever they need, I’ll be the one making sure they get it and making sure that they’re safe on the ice and properly equipped, and that’s a special feeling,” said Pens equipment manager Teddy Richards.
Working for the Pens is a family affair for the Richards. Richards’ dad was the full-time bus driver for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Now Richards’ brother Josh is his assistant equipment manager.
“It’s a bittersweet thing. I get to work with my brother every day. That’s a pretty cool thing. Not too many people get to do that.”
Just think about what an equipment manager has to do. When a hockey player hits the ice, he’s using more equipment and wearing more padding than almost any other athlete in any other sport.
“For about seven, eight months, we basically live at the rink. We’re usually the first ones in and the last ones to leave. We make sure everything’s perfect for the players here,” said assistant equipment manager Josh Richards.
Teddy Richards is set to start his new gig in August. Until then, he’ll organize gear in Wilkes-Barre and look ahead to becoming part of another hockey family in Pittsburgh.
“I’m still involved in a locker room atmosphere, and that’s the first big thing. There’s nothing that replaces the locker room atmosphere,” said Richards.
Proving that in hockey, sometimes it’s not all about hitting the ice.