TEEBZ: You sort of branched out on your own. You came up with this piece of equipment that the NHL absolutely needed in terms of getting their game going. It's a piece of equipment that basically I always found pretty fascinating because there's no real information as to where it started, where it came from, who got it started. Talk a little bit about the stick measurement tool and how your company started making them.
BRIAN POE: Yeah, I've always been a "niche product" kind of person. I see a gap in the market and I kind of want to fill that. I still kind of do that to this day to a small degree.
Just my own company, you said I work for them. Unfortunately, I'm a little bit of everything! I'm the marketing guy, the salesman, the manufacturer, distributor, designer, you name it. I've always had this thing for products that you can't, y'know, just get anywhere, and the stick gauge is one of them! I think somebody was looking for them - one of the equipment reps - and he had mentioned that "nobody makes them, I can't find them". I said, "Let me look into it." So I started into that. I just did regular retail sales. I had a few wholesale places that bought a few pieces at a time. It just kind of developed from there.
I don't even know who the real inventor is, but what I did was take - of course, the original type of "step", there are steps in the gauge that you put the blade in and measure - I kind of took that, redesigned it, I add some goalie measurements to it, something can be all-encompassing for that part of the market, and it turned out pretty well. I've been doing it for a long time, so that's kind of fun.
TEEBZ: It's kind of a cool way to sort of get in - not saying that you have to be a giant in the industry or anything like that - but you basically filled a niche that the NHL needed at that point because they had gone though, and in 2007, they changed the rule, going from a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch on their curvature, and needed something to change the old style which hadn't been changed since 1967-68 when the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams. I that was a pretty cool setup that you did there which, obviously, has gone pretty well for you.
BRIAN POE: Yeah, when they originally had looked for another manufacturer or whoever was making them, I guess they tripped on me. A few people told them about me, and they sent me an email to say, "Do you know that guy who makes them? We're looking for a few some new parts of the league."
I said, "Yeah, I know that guy. Boy, he's really good-looking too!"
Yeah, I was able to put something together with the NHL, and it had a trickle-down effect to the AHL, ECHL, the IHL at that time. And then even after that, I did Major Junior. I did Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec and the Western Leagues.
It was really fun. I'm not going to make a million dollars. I'm not curing cancer here with anything. But it's fun for me, and just to be able to work with the league at just the smallest level, it's one of the things I'm guess I'm proud of and happy I got to do. A lot of guys don't have that opportunity because you be an RBK or an Easton, y'know Bauer, to step in the league and to provide for these players.
Through all this, I was able to work with the on-ice officials, the off-ice officials. Even to this day, I just met with Edmonton's trainer, head equipment manager, a few weeks ago right around Thanksgiving, and he ordered a few more pieces, so I still get that opportunity to work with equipment managers and have that locker room access and just be part of the game, and that's great for me.
TEEBZ: Now when you got the call to put in the order for the NHL, do you remember who called you? Was it a big name, or just some guy from Hockey Ops?
BRIAN POE: Yeah, it was from Dave Baker, from the head of officiating from the Toronto office. I guess he works with Chris Kelly, maybe, and a few other guys. Yeah, he's the one who originally called and said, "We're looking to change this, but we need some parts pretty quickly."
I did a lot of hustling at that time. I had actually owned a pro shop at a three-pad hockey rink in Pittsburgh. In between trying to take of that, I worked at General Motors; an assembly plant, but it's a parts supplier - basically we stamped metal. So I was working second shift for that, the pro shop, trying to get all the stick gauges together for the league... it was a hectic time, but it was a lot of fun!
This is just a snippet of the 42-minute interview with Mr. Poe featured on HBIC Radio. We'll be playing the full fifty-minute interview on The Hockey Show on December 26, but the man behind the stick measurement gauge, Mr. Brian Poe, is a fantastic individual, a huge hockey fan, and a hockey innovator. That makes he pretty awesome in HBIC's books. And he's a Penguins fan. So that ratchets his score up another few notches.
Congratulations to Mr. Brian Poe on creating a vital piece of equipment found in every NHL arena and every NHL locker room across the continent!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!