By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports
The thing about Russ (Rusty) Hammond is that he never seems to have a bad day.
The guy loves his job as the equipment manager of the Guelph Storm. He pays attention to detail. He pays attention to those teenagers who don the Storm sweater. He listens and respects those kids and they listen and respect him back.
How big is Hammond? In the days and weeks leading up to his induction into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame last week, his mobile phone never stopped ringing and buzzing with congratulatory phone calls, voice messages, e-mails and texts from former Storm players and friends he’s made during his time in hockey.
“Rusty, I’m back on the bus for a five-hour trip from Helsinki back to home to Turku. I just wanted you to know that we’re thinking about you and all the best with your Hall of Fame induction tonight,” wrote former Storm forward Brian Willsie, Alex Ovechkin’s first roommate with the Washington Capitals.
Winning Stanley Cup captain Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings spent an afternoon visiting his old trainer last month. New Vancouver Canucks goalie coach Dan Cloutier, who led the Storm to a Memorial Cup berth in 1996, didn’t hesitate to make the drive to Guelph and speak during Hammond’s special evening last Tuesday.
OHL commissioner David Branch addressed the gathering, too. There wasn’t much time left for Hammond himself to speak.