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[Bio/Article] Canucks Training Staff Appreciation Thread


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Just wanted to start this thread as Patty has been one of the backbones of this organization for decades and imho is warranted far more attention/appreciation than he receives.

The entire team behind the bench are hard working and highly dedicated individuals who work long hours so that we as fans get to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Just wanted to shine a light on their commitment to the club. 


Published Apr 17, 2021 :


Canucks: Legendary equipment man Pat O'Neill finally now Mr. 3000 




Pat O'Neill will hit 3,000 games in the NHL when the Vancouver Canucks face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.


When you’ve worked in the National Hockey League for 41 years, you’d think the answer to the question of “quirkiest player you’ve ever dealt with” would take a moment.


For Pat O’Neill, now in his 33rd season as equipment manager for the Vancouver Canucks, the only reason the answer isn’t instant is because he had to laugh first.


“Cliff Ronning,” he replied three weeks ago, a few days ahead of what was supposed to be his 3,000th career NHL game. “He was probably the most superstitious person to ever play the game.”


Emphasis on “the most.”


He then proceeded to tell the story about the time during the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs when Geoff Courtnall had the number of the parking spot Ronning had started to use outside Pacific Coliseum repainted from seven — Ronning’s sweater number — to 13.


Through the first five games of the Smythe Division semifinal against the Los Angeles Kings, Ronning had six goals. The parking spot was his good-luck charm, he figured.


The problem was, O’Neill pointed out, that spot wasn’t in the area designated for the players. In fact, it was team owner Arthur Griffiths’ spot.

All week, a security guard had been asking the players who was parking in Griffiths’ spot. Ahead of Game 6, Courtnall went to O’Neill to help him track down the arena’s painter.


The seven became a 13.

“You’d almost rip the transmission out, he reversed so fast when (Ronning) saw what he was driving over,” O’Neill said.

“He never parked there again,” Courtnall laughed.

“It’s funny because it’s still there,” O’Neill added.


Ronning laughed when he was reminded of the story last month, then said he was delighted to hear that his old friend stands on the edge of a milestone.


“I’ve dealt with a lot of training staffs and Patty was first class,” said Ronning, who played for seven NHL teams — five seasons in Vancouver — amassing 1,137 career games played.

“For a trainer to be doing that for 3,000 games, you’ve gotta take your hat off. He’s dealt with 20 individuals every year who have their little needs, differences,” he added.


What makes O’Neill so good at his job is that he’s always there to help, but he’s also able to tell what a player didn’t need.


“There were times he definitely would laugh and set you in your place, and make you realize you were being a bit nuts,” Ronning said. “He was great at making you realize you just needed to play, that no matter what things you fiddled with, it came down to your ability.”


Canucks head coach Travis Green spoke in similar terms when asked about O’Neill’s achievement.


“It’s amazing,” he said. “He’s worked all star games, world cups … It tells you how good he’s been at his job. You’ve really got to be an amazing person. He might be a better person than he is a trainer.”


O’Neill, who is the first to arrive at the rink just about every day and is usually the last to leave, really was born to do this job. Before he started working for his hometown Winnipeg Jets, he worked at his dad’s sporting goods store in Winnipeg.


“I learned how to do all this stuff, repairs, sharpenings,” he said.

Of course, when he started, it was just him and a medical trainer and a third guy who would be a jack of all trades behind the scenes. Now he’s got a staff working alongside him, keeping skate blades sharp, sweaters, pants and socks looking sharp and sticks, helmets and gloves ready to go — and of course they’re busier than ever.


“The basics, 75 per cent of the job is probably the basics,” O’Neill said. “But there’s way more things to deal with. Two guys wouldn’t be able to do the job. There’s that much detail.


Everything is busier. Everything is amped up, so you have to have well educated, organized staff to make it happen in a proper manner.”

Facilities have come a long way, too.


“(The Coliseum) was like being in your parents’ basement. The (dressing room ceiling) was a little low. I mean, at that time it was good and it was functional, but nowadays it would be completely, not even close to being what you need.”


Being able to stay in his job for as long as he has is down to how O’Neill’s been able to connect with player after player after player. The equipment managers often double as a counsellor, ready to dole out advice on life, both on ice and off.


“We know better what they need and want than they do, because we’re so in tune with what they’re doing. We can read them like a book, for the most part,” O’Neill said. “At the end of the day, we make sure that players have everything they need to play the game with the best of their abilities.”


Griffiths, who sold the team in the mid-1990s, has kept in touch with O’Neill over the years.


“I can’t ever remember him complaining or saying, ‘I need this, I need that,'” Griffiths said. “He’s just ‘get ‘er done.’ He hasn’t changed a bit. His way of talking. His view of hockey, of himself. He’s not tired. Not cranky. Same outlook.”


“I can’t help but think of the commitment to the characters he’s looked after over the years. And keeping on top of the evolution of equipment.”








Edited by RWJC
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  • RWJC changed the title to [Bio/Article] Canucks Training Staff Appreciation Thread

Roman Kaszczij’s Journey From AHL to NHL Training Staff ‘Really Rewarding’


Kaszczij knew he wanted to work in hockey after interning for the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs




Vancouver Canucks Head Athletic Therapist Roman Kaszczij is excitedly anticipating his first regular-season NHL game.


Kaszczij has been part of human performance teams at NHL development camps, training camps, and preseason games. He’s been with Abbotsford for four seasons and enters his first season with Vancouver.


“To be able to go to Utica and Abbotsford and then come to Vancouver has been really rewarding. That first ‘welcome to the NHL’ moment is still probably to come. It’s been a really exciting time for myself, my family, and everybody involved in the process,” Kaszczij said.


The Mississauga, ON native got his introduction to professional sports interning for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Kinesiology at McMaster University, and then attended Sheridan College where he received his Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences (BAHSc) Athletic Therapy.

He knew he wanted to work in hockey when he was an Athletic Therapy Intern for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs from 2016-2018. He took his first job out of university with WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and spent a year in Brandon before joining the Utica Comets.


Kaszczij was given autonomy and was empowered by Abbotsford Canucks General Manager Ryan Johnson to make the medical room his own. Over the past four seasons, Johnson has been a mentor for Kaszczij, teaching him the nuances of a professional organization and helping him grow within his role.


“He was the big selling point for me when I took the job. I remember talking to him for the first time and immediately knowing he was someone I wanted to work for. He’s one of the greatest humans I’ve come across and I’m thankful that he took a chance on me as a young kid to work in Utica,” he said.


He’s grateful for all the staff in Utica who helped him get acclimated to pro hockey as well. During his time with the Comets, he had the opportunity navigate the U.S. healthcare systems and gained a lot of knowledge on that front, even though those seasons were impacted by the COVID pandemic. 


Kaszczij is at the ready for any potential on-ice injuries and is part of the rehab and recovery process. He explains his role focuses on injury management and keeping communication of player progress fluid between coaches, team doctors and the rest of the human performance team. Kaszczij’s approach to athletic therapy is holistic and, similarly to Director of Sport Performance, Alex Trinca, it’s about respecting the stress the players are under as athletes and people. 

“I’m a small part of the Canucks’ ecosystem and a big part of my job is managing, delegating, helping coordinate appointments, external treatment sessions, things like that. I try to make sure I’m helping make life easy on these players in whatever way I can,” he said.


“After games you’ll see a player with their kids and you realize that this is a job for him and he’s trying to provide for his family, or a younger player taking his first steps into the world of pro hockey.”


Helping people with their craft at an elite level brings a different kind of pressure than helping players in the minors that are working their way up the ranks, but it’s something he enjoyed with the Blue Jays and wanted to pursue.


An advantage of coming up through the Canucks organization is getting to know the players and staff and building that rapport. 

“It’s nice to be in the Canucks organization where I have some trust built with guys that I’ve come across throughout the years. There’s a lot of new guys and I’ve got to earn that a little bit too,” he said.


He’s had a few months to get acquainted in his new role before the season and he's been helping make sure players feel their best. There's lots to prepare for and attend to on game days, and even though he's been part of countless opening nights, he's ready for all the feels on his first NHL opening night.


ByLindsey Horsting

@lindseyhorsting Vancouver Canucks

October 03, 2023



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