He’s the most important man in the organization.
"You should ask me about what he means to the Corner Brook Royals because he won’t tell you half of what he does because he’s too modest to say."
Those were the words Corner Brook Royals captain Ryan McMackin shouted across the room while The Western Star tagged along with the team’s equipment manager/trainer Brandon Crewe before Saturday night’s West Coast Senior Hockey League game against the Stephenville Jets in Corner Brook.
McMackin quickly obliged when asked to talk about Crewe’s contribution to the team.
“Brandon is the biggest cog in the wheel for the Royals organization by far. I can guarantee you he’s putting in more time than anyone in that organization,” McMackin said Monday afternoon.
He believes Crewe goes well beyond the call of duty for an equipment manager. He has been impressed with his loyalty and dedication to the team and players by punching upwards of 40 hours a week to make the game an enjoyable experience for the players.
He’s at the rink six days a week doing something, whether it be putting stickers on helmets or making sure everything is on hand for the next game. He also plays a part in helping organize meals for road trips and he’s the name spoken most often in the room as players get waited on by a guy who just loves being around the game and a good group of guys so he has no qualms about the time spent doing what he likes to do.
“I can guarantee you out of all the sports I’ve played I never seen anything like what he does for the team,” he said.
Crewe, a 23-year-old native of Irishtown on the north shore of the Bay of Islands, never played much in the way of organized sports growing up.
He played a bit of shinny with his buddies and played some softball with the school team, but that’s about the extent of his competitive sports resume.
His connection to the Royals was born at an early age though. He got caught up in the excitement of senior hockey when he used to attend games with his grandfather Mac Campbell.
He became a big fan of the team through his pop and he got really into supporting the team when guys like Steve North, Jeff Murphy and Darren Colbourne were the star performers for the team.
It’s a game that has allowed him to meet new people and its something that breaks up the cold winter months so he’s happy to be involved with the team.
Crewe was involved with the Royals equipment handlers when the team played in the Central West Senior Hockey League when the staff consisted of four people in total, but now he’s running the show by himself and having fun doing so.
Home games aren’t too bad to prepare for, but the workload is heavy when it comes to travelling on the road because he has to pack everybody’s gear for the bus and make sure everything the players are going to need is securely tucked away before pulling out of the Corner Brook Civic Centre parking lot.
“Once you’re on the road you’re on the road. It’s not like it’s there in your back pocket,” Crewe said.
Players know who to call out to when they need something on game day. Whether it’s a problem with a skate, a visor or a helmet that’s gone missing, they know Crewe will take care of it for them so they really don’t have a lot of worries.
He likes being around the players and he believes they appreciate the contribution he makes, but in every room there’s one guy who can be a little tough to deal with and in this case it’s his good buddy Tyler Hunt who is often heard asking Crewe things like why is my gear wet and where did you put my shoulder pads?
“I would just tell him when he starts signing my paycheque he can start telling me what to do,” he said with a light chuckle.
That’s just a sample of the light fun around the team. He’s just happy to go about his business and doing what he can to make life easier for the players and doesn’t look for any fanfare.
Seeing local players providing fans with a quality brand of hockey is something that Crewe is happy to see. He knows hockey has struggled to survive on the west coast so he’s happy to see it healthy and he’s only too glad to play a small role in keeping it going.
“Anything they need I’m there for them,” he said. “It’s something I look forward to every weekend.”