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First In, Last Out

By Cam Tait

Whether it’s a goaltender’s pad or an ultra-thin skate lace, one thing is certain: Edmonton Oil Kings Head Equipment Manager Rogan Dean treats it with the same detail, care and attention.

It’s his trademark — just like his slow methodical walk from the Oil Kings dressing room to the players’ bench in Edmonton and throughout rinks around the Western Hockey League (WHL).

And, he’s made that walk countless times: Rogan started with the Oil Kings when they returned to the WHL in 2007.

Last Friday when the team began training camp in Fort Saskatchewan, Rogan was doing what he does best, preparing for the team’s first pre-season game, this coming Friday night in Red Deer against the Rebels.

“Attention to detail is a big thing for me,” said Dean. “It’s the little things you do that go a long way when it comes to making sure that the players are prepared for the game the best way possible, and that can separate you from others.”

It has paid off.

In 2014, Rogan was part of the pandemonium in London, Ontario when the Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup. It’s an honour he cherishes and realizes how special it was.

“Obviously winning the Memorial Cup is the highlight of my career,” he said gratefully.

“I know guys (other equipment managers) that have been in our league for 20 years and haven’t made it past the first round (of playoffs). But that whole stretch of winning two WHL league titles and a Memorial Cup is special, and something I’ll never forget.”

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Winning championships is one thing. Helping boys turn into young men is another.

Rogan says one of the biggest rewards about working for a major junior hockey team is being able to influence the development of players off the ice as they enter adulthood. Alongside the hard work, Rogan has made lifelong friends while honing his craft.

In today’s ever-changing workforce, it’s rare for someone to stay in the same job over a long period of time, but Rogan is entering his 10th season with the team.

“It’s (the Oil Kings) a first-class organization and we are a close-knit family. We all care about each other and that goes a long way when you are coming to the rink every day,” said Dean.

“We are friends before we are co-workers and we spend a lot of time with each other that isn’t work related and that’s a special thing to have.”

Growing up in the Edmonton area, Rogan always knew he wanted to be an equipment manager for a hockey club. He watched the one and only Barrie Stafford perform his magic with the Edmonton Oilers as equipment manager for 27 years. Now, Rogan says he’s fortunate to call Barrie a friend.

He’s also developed relationships with current Oilers Head Equipment Manager Jeff Lang and Assistant Equipment Manager Brad Harrison since the Oil Kings and Oilers have shared Rexall Place since 2007 and now will also share Rogers Place.

“I’m very fortunate to have guys like them working just down the hall that I can go and talk to or who are always a phone call or text away if we are on the road, ”said Dean.

What’s down the road for Rogan?

Dean says he’d love to apply his trade in the National Hockey League (NHL) and specifically with the Oilers — a team he grew up cheering for.

Working at the IIHF World Junior Championship is also on his list.

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“Every day is different and that’s what is always exciting,” said Dean.  “It’s always a great thing when you get to come to the rink every day to watch the game you love.”

Rogan remembers the very first Oil Kings Opening Night back on September 20, 2007 at Rexall Place and lists it as one of his all-time favourite moments.

Chances are another memorable moment will come September 24, 2016 when the Oil Kings play their home opener — the first hockey game in Rogers Place.

And on this special night, Rogan Dean will be there absorbing every little detail.

(For comments, suggestions or just to say hi, email ctait@edmontonoilers.com)

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