The annual rite of summer is back on Buzzing The Net as we get set for another off-season of profiling players across the CHL and the jobs they hold down away from the hockey spotlight.
Like many teenagers, a summer job is usually the first rite of passage into the real world. Playing hockey is a luxury compared to the often mundane, laborious work players partake in to make a little extra cash to spend during the season.
As the group looking to unionize players across the Canadian Hockey League will tell you, these kids don't make very much money.
Back in 2011, when this series first started, former Belleville Bulls captain Luke Judson captured the sentiment shared by most players working for the summer eloquently: "The real world kinda sucks."
For the most part, however, many of the players enjoy their jobs. It gives them something to do and someplace to go every day. Routine and structure are what hockey players are used to - particularly in junior - so a set schedule and a sense of purpose are important.
Here's the first installment for 2014 on how some players across the Canadian Hockey League are spending their summers…
Liam Maaskant (Barrie Colts)
Ray Huether (Sudbury Wolves)
The Yard Kings - Huron County, Ont:
They specialize in mowing lawns and gardening, but OHLers Liam Maaskant and Ray Huether are willing to help with any kind of work. No job is too big or too small for these two childhood friends who started their own small business called: Yard Kings.
They service Huron County (think north-east of London, Ont.) which includes such local Ontario hot spots as Goderich, Seaforth, Bayfield, Londesborough and Dashwood.
"Most of the rural farmers already have big mowers so they don't really need us," says Maaskant. "So we do little town lawns."
Both Maaskant and Huether grew up on area farms, so they know all about hard work. They started their business in early June and missed the deadline for one government grant that helps young entrepreneurs (like the grant former Owen Sound Attack forward Brendan Childerley used in 2012). They were hoping to apply for yet another grant before they go on hiatus for hockey.
"We use it as a workout almost," says Maaskant of their work. "We're in the sun all day and we work as hard as we can to get the jobs done as quickly as we can because we don't want to overcharge people - that's not really what we're working for - that's not what we're about."
An honest day's work, however, isn't always enjoyable.
"One of the gardens was like cement," says Maaskant. "So we had to pickaxe that before we could spread the top soil and turn it."
"Yeah, that was pretty bad, it was like hard clay or something," adds Huether. "It took pretty long."
Word of mouth for the pair is spreading in their small community. When BTN caught up with with the Kings early in their venture they had already snagged three clients with another two lined up. And why not? The price is definitely right.
The Yard Kings charge $15 per hour per player - so for $30 you can have both of them mow your lawn, help garden, clean your gutters, paint, or like the photo above, stock a barn full of 25,000 tiny chicks.
"Farm cleaning or anything really," says Maaskant of what they can be hired to do. "That's common around here that farmers need help and everyone just jumps in."
"We'll do odd jobs," says Huether, who admits Maaskant is the "bossy" one in their joint venture. "We'll do anything."
The entrepreneurial duo are already looking ahead to next summer where they have new ideas they hope to grow along with some fresh vegetables.
"We're pretty good at designing gardens," says Maaskant. "Next year we really want to start building and maintaining vegetable gardens for people in the area. At the start of the season we'd till the big patch they wanted to make and then plant the veggies that they wanted. Then we'd maintain it every week and I think that would be pretty cool."
If you live in Huron County and would like to hire the Yard Kings for a job, drop Liam and Ray a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marc-Oliver Crevier-Morin (Gatineau Olympiques)
Toitures Crevier-Morin - Châteauguay, Que:
The best thing about his job, says Gatineau Olympiques defenceman Marc-Oliver Crevier-Morin, is the fact he gets to learn the family business. The 18-year-old spends his days with his older brother Mathieu, 23, and his father Michel, working for Toitures Crevier-Morin which is the family roofing business.
"It's kind of hard," says Crevier-Morin. "Sometimes it sucks, but it's nice working with my dad and my brother.
"We're having fun on the roof. I'm spending time with my dad and my brother just talking about life. Also working outside - I love working outside."
Roofing is grueling work. During our first summer job series we featured Prince George's Spencer Asuchak who spent one day as a roofer before calling it quits. Crevier-Morin says the hardest thing about the job is being out in the sun all day without any respite from the heat.
"You wake up at 7 a.m., and it's already 30 degrees outside," says the blueliner. "It's so hard. We sweat so much. You're on a roof so there's no shade. You're always in the sun and it's so hot - that's the hardest thing."
Since he's working for his dad, getting time off to train at the gym is not difficult. Currently Crevier-Morin is in Montreal, taking part in the Montreal Canadiens development camp. He also says his dad is very good when it comes to paying his wages, where he gets paid by the hour. Having a little extra spending money comes in handy for when the season starts.
"Our (QMJHL) salary isn't very high, I get to have a little reserve (of funds) so I can have fun," says Crevier-Morin. "With my salary if I go have lunch then I can't go to the (movies). Last year my parents were giving me money for my activities, but I don't always want to be dependent on my parents. This is good to have some money in the bank."
His hours vary depending on the job though the day always begins early. The weather also dictates whether they can work. If it rains during the week on a big job, it means he might work on a Saturday as well.
This is Crevier-Morin's second summer working as a roofer in his native Châteauguay, Que. He's become used to the grind but notes his first few days at work are always the worst, even when he's in top physical shape.
"I'm getting used to it a bit now," says Crevier-Morin. "At the beginning when I would come home my lower back would just kill for two days. I work every day so on the weekends I would be walking around like a duck because my back and my legs were so bad."
Corbin Boes (Portland Winterhawks)
Warehouse Runner - Saskatoon, Sask:
As the last line of defence for the Portland Winterhawks, goaltender Corbin Boes knows a thing or two about having a quick reaction time. The same is true in the off-season where he works at Applied Industrial Technologies, a warehouse with different types of industrial parts - big motor drives, bearings and oil seals - many of which are used in the local potash mines.
"I don't have to know what anything does which is good I guess," says Boes of all the parts in stock. "I just have to know where it is and find it if an order comes through. When we're putting stock away I have to be able to know where it goes on the shelf. It's a pretty big warehouse, so you have to know where everything goes."
There are no segways or golf carts to help navigate the expansive building which Boes estimates is roughly the size of a football field. As a result the 6-foot-3, 224-pound netminder spends most of his day on his feet walking around looking for boxes containing parts.
"It's not a strenuous job but you're on your feet all the time so it's good that way," says Boes who works weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "It's active but it's not strenuous labour like working construction or anything like that."
Boes attended Calgary Flames development camp earlier this week which also meant taking some time off from work. It's his third summer working at the warehouse, which means this year he was luck enough to get a raise.
"They're flexible with the hours so if I need to take time off for hockey I can," said the 20-year-old. "It's good that way."
Boes says he enjoys his job partly because of the flexibility and mostly because it gives him something to do during the day and provides him with a little extra spending money.
"Working gives you something to do," says Boes. "Otherwise I'd just sleep in all day if I could and I didn't have to work in the off-season. It keeps me active I guess.
"It definitely helps you appreciate the people who get to play hockey for a living."