Few humans are as good at their job as the Toronto Maple Leafs' 'stick man' is at his
When you think of the unsung heroes on your favorite NHL team, your mind might jump to the top penalty-killer, a fourth-liner who eats up minutes or the second-pair defenseman who does all the dirty work. In reality, the NHL's biggest unsung heroes are a collection of dudes who ride the pine in street clothes.
That's right, folks, we're talking about the equipment managers, the guys who have sticks ready at a moment's notice when a player's twig breaks on the ice. Bobby Hastings, the Toronto Maple Leafs' "stick man," is among the best in the biz. We've actually written about Bobby before, four years ago to be exact, when he assisted on Mitch Marner goal in an early-season game against the San Jose Sharks (bonus video of Pittsburgh Penguins equipment manager Jon Taglianetti assisting on a Sidney Crosby goal in April of 2021):
This week, Hastings is going viral once again. On Monday night in Las Vegas, a fan captured Hastings being his usual self, which is to say the most prepared man in hockey. Watch as Hastings moves his hand to the backup sticks of whichever Maple Leafs player has the puck at the moment:
Some people might think this is a little over the top, but it's just the right mix of hardo and being insanely prepared for the worst, much like a dad who makes you arrive at the airport three hours before departure. Don't be mad that Hastings is at the top of his game at all times.
And by the way, as someone quickly pointed out in the replies, there's a reason Hastings is this dialed in. During the waning seconds of last season's Stanley Cup, Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, stickless at the time, could be seen losing his mind by the bench. The reason? The Tampa Bay stick man didn't have a stick ready:
Would never happen on Hastings' watch, though he doesn't have to worry about his team ever making the Stanley Cup (there, made the joke for you).