Chris Aldrich didn’t dream of working for the NHL when he was a child. When he graduated from Windham High School in 1990, he went to the State Fire Academy and received EMT certification, intending to become a career firefighter. A couple of years later, he went to college to become a history teacher. Throughout it all, however, he was working with hockey teams and in the end, hockey won out.
|Chris Aldrich on the right|
“I thought for sure I was going to be a history teacher,” Aldrich said. But when the call came from the Boston Bruins, he couldn’t pass it up. “You don’t get that call very often,” he said. “I thought I’m going to jump on this and see what happens, see where it takes me.” And it’s taken him far and wide as he travelled with teams, including a trip to Germany with Team USA. “I’ve travelled the world because of this job, for free.”
Aldrich began his career with the Maine Mariners while still in high school. When the Mariners, a Boston Bruins minor league team, moved to Providence, Aldrich did too. After five years there, he moved up to the Boston Bruins, working with them for 10 years. After a management turnover,
Aldrich was looking for change and had the opportunity to return to Maine to work for the Portland Pirates, which was affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. He hoped he’d be back in Maine for a while, but after just one year the Ducks moved their minor league team to Iowa. After a season in Iowa, Aldrich ended up in his current position at the Anaheim Ducks.
Aldrich said it was connections and support from many people in Windham that helped him land where he is now. It all began when he was young, and he had the opportunity to go to games, visit the locker room and meet players with his friend Billy Anderson, whose dad drove a bus for the Maine Mariners. Those experiences brought his enjoyment of hockey to a different level, he said.
So when another friend, Kyle Rickett, who was working with the Mariners on game nights, asked him if he was interested in working when a spot opened up offering assistance to the visiting teams, he said yes. And being part of what makes a game come together was so interesting, he just kept moving forward.
When Rickett graduated from high school and went into his family’s business, the head equipment manager Roger Beaudoin offered Aldrich a chance to move to the home team side. When Beaudoin left, Peter Henderson came on, and asked if Aldrich was interested in staying. He said yes, and worked with Henderson for 15 years.
“The connection with Windham was all the way up through. Without any one of those people, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. They all played a key role in me getting to where I’m at,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich is the equipment manager for the team, meaning he helps take care of any needs the players might have: new skates, sticks, alterations to equipment, and much more. “Anything they have on the ice, we’ve directly had some contact with,” he said.
The shared experiences, stories and sense of family that exists on a team are part of what makes the job fun, he said. Travelling has also been a great experience, though now that he has a 10-year-old child, leaving is more difficult he shared. “When I first started, it was unbelievable,” he said; adding that he can’t believe how fast the years have gone by.
Aldrich’s story illustrates what is possible when you’re willing to follow an unplanned path. Though it wasn’t at all what he imagined doing when he was a kid, he has grown to love it, he said. “You meet so many people along the way that give you advice, and point you in the right direction,” he said. “You have to be willing to work and maybe relocate, but if you can put the time in, if you can show the effort, anything is possible.”