As the hockey season winds down, parents are often faced with a difficult task: tracking down a present to say THANKS! It may be for the coaches, managers, billets – or a family your player has been ride sharing with all season. It could even be for someone who’s been especially helpful in the league office. For that wind-up party or as a parting gift, one thing is certain: the gift should be something useful, something that will be used and appreciated and, if possible, something with a connection to hockey.
You have to take a look at what Hat Trick BBQ has on offer because it checks off all those requirements – click here for the Canadian site and here for the US site. They’re making barbecue utensils – and more – out of broken game-used hockey sticks – green gifts you’ll be proud to give.
Making barbecue sets out of broken hockey sticks was the idea of California hockey dad, Eric Bourgoujian, who thought the broken sticks piling up in the garage could be used for something better than just the landfill. He tried some different things, then put a set of barbecue utensils together, showed what he’d done to another hockey dad, John Ufland, who thought it was GENIUS – and that’s how Hat Trick Hockey was born.
Bourgoujian and Ufland started sourcing sticks from rinks near where they were, in Van Nuys, CA, but they ran into a supply problem. Broken sticks weren’t always there when they needed them, and sometimes the broken sticks were pretty beat up. So John called up one of his friends, Hockey Hall of Famer, Luc Robitaille, the President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings.
That call could not have been made at a better time. It was 2012, and the Kings were in the series, playing against the New Jersey Devils to see who would win the Stanley Cup.
“Luc said ‘I want these. I want these in my building now.’ They put them into a silent auction for a home game and the Anze Kopitar set sold for $500.,” Ufland recalls. (Kopitar, a center for the Kings, scored the overtime goal in the first game of the series – and the Kings went on to beat the Devils 4 games to 2 to win the Cup.)
Robitaille also put them in contact with the equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings and a deal was struck.
Today, Hat Trick BBQ has agreements with 22 NHL teams and four stick manufacturers in the USA. Two years ago, the company expanded into Canada. Josh Lutz runs Hat Trick BBQ in Burlington, Ontario and has deals with four Canadian NHL teams, the Ontario Hockey League and Ontario University Athletics – as well as one stick manufacturer.
“One of the best projects I’ve worked on so far was making barbecue sets for the Winnipeg Jets for their annual Dads Trip,” Lutz tells me by phone. “That was really cool. The sets were put into each of the Dads’ “welcome” kit. Then, a few months later, they called me back asking for more, this time for sets for all their staff. Those kinds of projects are fun!”
Although the name is Hat Trick BBQ, their repurposing extends beyond just barbecue utensils.
“The complete product range includes bottle openers, snow brushes, golf brushes, putters, toilet plungers — and fishing rods, all made with game played sticks,” Lutz says. “The bottle openers are really popular in goodie bags, especially for golf tournaments.”
Hitting the 30,000 Mark
“Each NHL team goes through about a thousand sticks a year. That’s an incredible amount of sticks headed for a landfill that will never decompose,” says Ufland. This week, we hit the 30,000 mark on the number of sticks we’ve managed to recycle. That’s a whole lot better than putting them in a landfill where they’ll stay forever.”
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