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Storm’s trusty Rusty a cut above

By Ned Bekavac
Guelph Tribune

It can be tough to be a teenager and try out for a hockey team, only to get cut.

It’s probably even tougher when your pals make the squad, but you don’t.

In the 1960s, Russ (Rusty) Hammond was a student at John F. Ross CVI in Guelph. He and his buddies were trying out for the Dee’s Beef Kings Junior C hockey team.

Hammond got cut.

But just because he didn’t make the Dee’s Beef Kings team, didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be part of it.

Hammond had some experience as a trainer with the Guelph Regals hockey team. His dad was part of the team’s ownership group.

So he contacted Lou Embro, the general manager of the Beef Kings.

“All my buddies were trying out for the team. They made it and I didn’t,” says Hammond.

“So here’s the situation. I either ask Lou Embro, ‘Listen Lou, can I hang out and do something with the team?’ Or I’m gone.

“I got involved that way, and that’s how it started.”

Several decades later, Hammond is a member of the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame.

He’s been inducted into the builder’s category at the local sporting shrine.

Hammond has been Guelph Storm head equipment manager for the last 19 years. He has done work for the Guelph Platers, and provincial and national teams.

The list goes on.

The induction into the local Hall is a moving one for the Guelph native.

“You know, until just a while ago I was putting on a pretty brave face around the rink. Being nonchalant,” he says. “But this is overwhelming.”

The night of his induction, Storm players current and past took to Twitter to congratulate Hammond, and several players and staffers were in attendance to pat the man himself on the back in person.

On the heels of his induction into the Hall, the Trib shot a bunch of Qs Hammond’s way for a Q&A.

• • •
Q: Given the gig you have and the people you deal with, you must see lots of interesting stuff. Can you share a particular story?
A: There is one I will never forget. I was in Helsinki with the world junior team and the Slovakian team had no items at all for skate sharpening or repairs, so I quietly gave them everything they needed from my Team Canada supplies.

• • •
Q: It’s a random Saturday night and you’re doing nothing hockey-related. What might you be up to?
A: That’s easy, usually a night out for supper with my wife, and home to watch a movie.

• • •
Q: Thinking back to all the Storm and Platers players you’ve dealt with, who would you say, just off the top of your head, is one . . .
• Of the funniest: Joe Underwood
• Of the quietest: Dustin Brown
• Of the sharpest dressers: Dan Cloutier
• With the most unique fashion sense: Ruman Ndur
• Of the most punctual: Manny Malhotra
• Of the toughest: Bob Crummer
• Of the most rambunctious: Brian McGratton
• Of the most courteous: Chris Hajt
• Of the strongest: Matt Lahey
• Of the most studious: David Searle
• Of the best story tellers: Andrew Long

• • •
Q: It’s Friday and the Storm plays a home game at 7:30 p.m. What would be a particularly stressful moment of your day?
A: Deciding if I’m going to the media room to have supper (laughs). Nothing really, because our preparation starts the night before and I have a great, organized staff.

• • •
Q: The Trib is paying the tab. What’s your tipple and where would you be having it?
A: Pint of Sleeman Original Draught anywhere it’s quiet. And players are not around.

• • •
Q: How much do you miss NHL hockey and whose side are you on in the lockout (why)?
A: I don’t miss it at all, I have no time to really get into it, with our busy schedule.

I do like to follow our former players though. I have no opinion on either side, because I don’t really understand the issues.

• • •
Q: What’s one thing you really like about Guelph? And one you don’t?
A: I like the small town feeling and being selfish would like to keep it that way. I don’t like the political agenda of some of our current councillors

• • •
Q: Alive or not, who are three famous people you’d like to have over for dinner and drinks?
A: Muhammad Ali, Pierre Trudeau and Mick Jagger.
• • •

Q: Tell us something neat about Rusty Hammond that most local hockey diehards probably don’t know.
A: My real name is not Rusty.

• • •
Q: Thanks Rusty, hoping you can pass us your favourite:
• Band or musician: Meat Loaf
• Actor: Russell Crowe
• Actress: Angelina Jolie
• Movie: Bone Collector
• TV show: Dragon’s Den
• Food: Fish and chips
• Drink: Old  Milwaukee
• Sport aside from hockey: Baseball
• Day of the week: Game day
• Pro sports franchise: Buffalo Bills

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