Russ (Rusty) Hammond
Whether it was the old Memorial Gardens or now the Sleeman Centre, if you walked through the lower halls of the arena, you were bound to find Russ Hammond hard at work preparing for the next practice or game or holding court in his office. Hammond has been the Guelph Storm’s equipment manager for 19 years which includes four Memorial Cup appearances in 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2004. Seeing Rusty behind the bench, ready to spring into action has become a part of the Storm fabric.
“My best memory in this job came from the 1998 Memorial Cup” said Hammond. “Even though we lost in overtime in the final (to the Portland Winter Hawks), in a game that ripped your heart out, I remember how coach George Burnett had everyone so focused and ready to play for each other. It was special to be a part of.”
Rusty has also worked many times on the international stage. He worked with Team Ontario’s Under-17 team in 1993; Team Canada’s U18 gold medal winning team in Czech Republic in 2002; the 2003 Canada/Russia World Cup Challenge and Canada’s World Junior team in 2004 that won a silver medal in Finland. That team featured Sidney Crosby, Mike Richards and Dion Phaneuf. He has also taken part in four Ontario Hockey League all-star games.
“The reason I got into this line of work is that back in the 60’s myself and a bunch of friends tried out for the Guelph Dee Beef Kings Junior C team and I got cut” admitted Hammond. “I knew I wanted to stay involved with hockey so I started looking after all the equipment and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Rusty has spent almost 30 years running a tight ship, making sure that everything is ready for the players to be able to perform at their highest level. It is not a job in the limelight, but you could argue it is as important as any player or coach on the team.
Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Builder category – on October 30, 2012