Jim Staniford was milling around Angel of the Winds Arena following the Everett Silvertips’ game against the Portland Winterhawks on Feb. 9 when he was approached by Eric Christiansen, the father of Everett defenseman Jake Christiansen. Jake Christiansen had just scored three goals in the Silvertips’ 5-0 victory, and the elder Christiansen had some words for Staniford.
“Eric goes to almost all the games, so I see him all the time,” recalled Staniford, an Everett season ticket holder since day one. “When I saw him after Jake got his hat trick, he didn’t say, ‘Hi,’ or, ‘How are you doing?’ The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Size 12.’”
Eric Christiansen knew his son hadn’t just scored a hat trick. He also knew Jake had scored a sweet new pair of sneakers from the man who’s become the shoe provider to the Silvertips.
For 15 years Staniford has had a custom pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high tops made for any Everett player who scores a hat trick. It’s a tradition that’s made scoring three goals in a game a little extra special for the Tips.
“It’s pretty awesome that the fans care that much about the players to do a little something for us,” said Everett winger Zack Andrusiak, who earned his pair with three goals in a 9-1 victory over Lethbridge on Jan. 26. “It’s pretty special, it’s a good memento to remember (the hat trick).”
Staniford, who with his wife, Karen, owns the Vintage Cafe four blocks from Angel of the Winds Arena, has been rewarding players with custom sneakers since Everett’s second season in 2004-05. Players who score hat tricks get a pair, as do those who have Gordie Howe hat tricks (a goal, an assist and a fight in one game), as well as the captains. Staniford tells the goaltenders they’ll get a pair if they score a goal, though the Tips have yet to have a netminder accomplish that feat.
Staniford has no idea how many pairs he’s had made over the years, but he guessed it was at least 50.
“It’s just a fun thing,” Staniford said. “My wife thinks I’m crazy, but it’s just something I do. It’s my little way of supporting the team.”
Everett had a flurry of hat tricks in late January and early February. During a five-game span the Tips had four different players pot three goals in a game — Christiansen, Andrusiak, Bryce Kindopp and Connor Dewar. Also during that span Gianni Fairbrother had a Gordie Howe hat trick.
All of which made for a busy stretch for Staniford. Five pairs of shoes were delivered to the team last week, with the players getting their first look at them Thursday morning between practice and boarding the bus for Victoria. This batch was primarily grey with green tongues. The Silvertips logo is stitched into the side, and on the tongue it has the player’s name, number and the words “Hat trick.”
“They’re pretty cool,” was Jake Christiansen’s reaction to seeing his pair. “Guys have gotten them in the past and I always wanted a pair. I didn’t know if I ever would get them because it’s pretty rare for a (defenseman) to get a hat trick. But now it’s something I can look at in the future and remember what happened.”
Staniford has had season tickets in Section 106 since the team began playing in 2003, and because the Vintage Cafe is so close to the arena, it’s become a regular dining spot for the players. Therefore, Staniford gets to know them well.
However, the idea of rewarding players with custom shoes for hat tricks didn’t come along until year No. 2.
“I actually started out that every time one of the boys scored a goal I’d give them a $10 gift card to the restaurant,” Staniford said. “But then a couple players started getting so many of those, and the first time a player got a hat trick he got four cards — one for each goal and one for the hat trick. The second year I was at the mall buying a pair of shoes and saw these green Converse tennis shoes that I got for myself. That gave me the idea.”
Staniford grew up wearing Converse, so he was naturally drawn to the brand. Then when he went onto the Converse website he discovered he could have the Chuck Taylors made with custom colors. Therefore, Converse became the shoes of choice. Each time he has shoes made with slightly different colors, though he generally stays within the Everett’s color scheme. After the shoes are delivered, he has them sent to Jessie’s Stitches in Everett, where the names and logo are added.
For Dewar, this was his third pair, as he received pairs for a prior hat trick and for being named captain this year. His other two are all green.
Most of the players said they’ll probably use the shoes more as trophies than footwear. But the fact so many players received shoes at the same time may change that.
“There are a few other guys who got them, so we talked about coordinating outfits and maybe wearing them together sometime,” Andrusiak said.
Which would make for a unique celebration of goal-scoring excellence, courtesy of Staniford’s generosity.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.