Oshawa fans have seen some exceptional players, coaches and teams come and go over the past 40 years but the one person who has remained a fixture behind the Generals bench is Head Athletic Trainer and Equipment Manager Bryan Boyes. Boyes started with the Generals nearly 40 years ago as the stick boy when he was only 15 years old and under the guidance of Head Trainer Ron Coleman he quickly learned the job and moved up in the organization. After graduating from the Athletic Training and Management program at Sheridan College Bryan took over the role as Head Athletic Trainer and Equipment Manager in 1982 and has held that position ever since.
During his time with the Generals Boyes has been a key part of five OHL Championship winning teams (1983, 1987, 1990, 1997, and 2015,) and two Memorial Cups (1990 and 2015.) When the fans see him in his familiar spot at the end of the bench they probably don’t realize how much time and preparation he puts into each and every game and practice. He not only orders, organizes and distributes all of the equipment for the team he also works with the players on injury prevention and rehabilitation. Whether it is going on the ice to attend to an injured player or replacing a broken stick for a player before they get back to the bench he analyzes the game through a special lens and never misses a beat.
In addition to his years with the Generals, Bryan has also worked for Hockey Canada on several occasions acting as the Trainer for the World Juniors seven times winning five gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. He also has experience working with NHL players having served as the equipment manager of the Canadian Men’s National Team at the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany.
Working behind the bench is something that definitely runs in the Boyes family as Bryan’s son Michael is also an equipment manager in the OHL. Michael grew up with the Oshawa Generals and got to experience things that some young hockey fans only dream of. Michael would often accompany his dad to the rink on the weekends and hang out in the Generals locker room. He attended most home games with his Grandpa Bill (Bryan’s father) at the Oshawa Civic. Before each home game the two of them would go down to the dressing room to visit Bryan and when the players hit the ice they would move upstairs to watch the game. Whether it was play fighting with Ben Eager on the backyard rink that his dad built or beating Marc Savard in checkers, Michael got the chance to be around some of the Generals’ greats growing up.
"To this day my dad still has a picture in the Generals dressing room of myself and Ryan Lindsay (who my dad and I are still in contact with to this day) holding the J. Ross Robertson Cup with my teddy bear sitting in the cup,” said Michael.
It seemed only natural that Michael would follow in his father’s footsteps and work for the Generals. As he got older Michael would join the Gen’s staff as the Assistant Equipment Manager. Under Bryan’s tutelage Michael quickly learned the role and became a valuable member of the team.
“It was an exciting time. Michael is my son but also was the assistant Equipment Manager with Oshawa. At the rink it was a business relationship. This shows the maturity and professionalism of Michael at a young age,” said Bryan.
Michael gained some valuable experience with the Gens working side-by-side with his father getting to know the various facets of the job. He even got the chance to be in charge when Bryan was working with the World Junior team one year.
“Michael developed his skills during his time in Oshawa and was far ahead of many at his age. I could rely on him all the time. He was in charge one year I was with the National Junior Team and I had zero concerns due to his professionalism and capability to do the job,” said Bryan.
Bryan had a very hand-on approach to teaching Michael about things like skate sharpening, fixing equipment and preparing for practices and games. He even learned about the business side of the game doing things like ordering equipment and coordinating team travel arrangements.
“I’ve learned everything I know from my dad in terms of becoming an equipment manager. He’s taught me everything from skate sharpening, sewing and equipment repairs to logistical stuff such as budgeting, ordering, team travelling etc. Much of this is stuff that you learn hands on and he was very good at letting me take a lead,” said Michael.
When he got to grade 12 and had to choose a post-secondary program the decision was simple. Michael enrolled in the Sports Management program at Durham College and started to look at his job with the Gens as his career path.
“It’s around the time that you start applying to colleges/universities and have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. I was lucky because it was an easy decision for me. Growing up around the rink and in the dressing room, there isn’t really any other life that I knew outside of hockey. It also made it an easy decision being able to get a taste of what the job was actually like before I had to make the decision as I had been working with my dad for a few years at that point,” said Michael.
Michael was firmly established with the Generals organization but after graduating from Durham College and acting as the assistant for nine years it was only a matter of time before he would be given the opportunity to become a head equipment manager. That chance came in 2014 when Michael earned the job as Head Equipment Manager for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Since making the move to the Soo he has flourished in the lead role and really settled into his new home.
“So far my time in the Soo has been one of the best times of my life. In my short time here I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some great people, and made some great friends. It’s amazing how much the town loves the Greyhounds and rallies around the team. It’s very exciting to be a part of,” said Michael.
Michael’s move to the Soo has been bittersweet for Bryan and the Generals.
“As a father I couldn’t be more proud. As the Equipment Manager with the Generals I lost a valuable person from my staff,” said Bryan.
Michael’s two main goals for the future are to one day get the chance to work for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and ultimately to make it to the NHL. It seems like he is well on his way to achieving those goals as he has already worked for Hockey Canada at two World Under 17 Challenge tournaments, and three Program of Excellence goaltending camps.
While both Bryan and Michael will no doubt continue to excel with the Gens and Greyhounds the two have started a friendly rivalry when the two teams meet up.
“It was a proud moment to see Michael on the Greyhounds’ bench. Our series is tied 1-1 with us on the bench. Next game in Oshawa is for bragging rights!” said Bryan.