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NHL restart adds new challenges for Lightning equipment managers

Bolts' equipment managers are packing for a two-month road trip
Posted at 3:04 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 00:37:09-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Packing for one can be stressful. Imagine packing for 31 players and several more coaches.

Now that’s the challenge for the Tampa Bay Lightning's equipment managers.

“If you look at it from the whole, if you let it overwhelm you, it’s incredibly difficult,” assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy said.

A typical NHL road trip is about a week, but this is not your typical road trip or season with COVID-19 pushing the pause button back in March. A total of 24 teams will restart the season in Canada — 12 Eastern Conference teams in Toronto and 12 Western Conference teams in Edmonton.

The Lightning leave for their bubble in Toronto on Sunday.

“We are packing for two months,” Kennedy said. “In terms of what we are bringing — sticks, extra gloves, extra skates — we’re trying to cover all of our bases in terms of how long we are going,” Kennedy said. “We are planning on playing up to 32 games.”

Kennedy must submit a manifest that outlines everything they’re bringing on the plane. The bags keep piling up, so far they will haul 9,138 pounds of equipment, including six boxes of hockey sticks weighing 720 pounds. This does not include five pallets of gear that was already shipped to Toronto.

“For this particular trip, we are about 2,000 pounds heavier than when we went to Sweden (for the Global Series in November 2019) and that was our heaviest trip up until now,” Kennedy said.

For Kennedy, now is not the time to leave something behind.

“The Stanley Cup is on the line. You don’t have any higher stakes than what we’ve got here.”

The Lightning will play three round-robin games to determine playoff seeding, with the first game on August 3. From there, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on August 11.