Athletics: 'The Weapon' brushes back some tough questions
Seven years ago, Dan Anderson opened a specialty sports store that has become a hub of activity, hockey talk and good-natured sports tomfoolery. With his Twitter handle @hockeyhousebrd, Anderson has become the Brainerd lakes area's "Weapon" of wi...
Seven years ago, Dan Anderson opened a specialty sports store that has become a hub of activity, hockey talk and good-natured sports tomfoolery.
With his Twitter handle @hockeyhousebrd, Anderson has become the Brainerd lakes area's "Weapon" of wit and words on social media as well.
The 1992 Brainerd High School graduate, husband, father of two and dog owner took time away from sharpening skates to answer a few burning questions lingering in the Dispatch Sports Department.
Question: You opened a sports store that specializes in hockey equipment, apparel and merchandise in 2012. How difficult of a decision was that and how has it changed your life?
Dan Anderson: Having a supportive wife and kids made the decision easy. The experience has been life-changing for all of us. We have been fortunate to meet a lot of terrific families and can say that we have friends on every continent except Antarctica. That's really cool. Our area is so fortunate in that we have multiple thriving hockey camps that draw people from all over. Being able to say we have had the honor of hosting the Stanley Cup in our store twice, (once with Chico Resch and once with Josh Archibald) is an honor, and so is saying that I've had the opportunity to sharpen skates for multiple professional hockey players is pretty special.
Q: When growing up in Brainerd, what professional athletes did you admire and why, and were there any Warrior athletes you strived to emulate?
DA: Bo Jackson was almost mythical. It seemed like he could do it all and he did. Playing pro football and pro baseball was amazing. He was the perfect role model for kids to emulate because he played multiple sports and was successful. The push for specialization in sports is unfortunate in that you don't see as many kids striving to be multi-sport athletes.
Q: Your greatest Brainerd hockey memory?
DA: The 2013 Section 8-2A semifinal game when the Warriors beat Roseau is one that stands out. I closed the store early and remember how packed the arena was. It was the largest crowd ever to see a game in Brainerd-close to 2,000 people that night. You literally could not move and when Chris Pohlkamp scored to give Brainerd the lead, 4-3, the crowd went crazy. Such a special night.
The tie for the top of the list was last season and being able to travel down to watch the Warrior girls play in the state high school tournament. I got to work for Prep 45 TV that night doing color commentary. Being able to announce a game on TV for a group of girls that you know personally was something that stays with you.
Q: You are also a big rock 'n' roll fan. Would you rather be a professional athlete or a rock legend, and why?
DA: Definitely a rock legend. I don't have to think twice. Having the ability to create music that stands the test of time is powerful. We all still listen to Hendrix, The Doors, the Stones. Having the ability to affect the world forever would be pretty cool. Also, if you stop and think, people have been listening to Led Zeppelin for the past 50 years and probably will be 50 years from now.
Q: The best concert you attended? When, where, who and how was it?
DA: This is a tough one. Each concert I've attended has been unique in its own way. Hard rock would be Guns N Roses and Metallica, although taking my daughter to AC/DC makes the list for second-generation fans.
Being front row for Bruce Springsteen and Sting was super cool. The most interesting crowd was at Rob Zombie and the most mellow was John Mellencamp. Last summer, I took my youngest daughter to Coachella and that was just its own sensory experience - there's just no other way to describe it.
Q: You had a nickname in high school. What was it? And who do you think has the best nickname from Brainerd High School?
DA: Mike Bialka called me "Weapon" in a baseball article my senior year. The next day at school my buddy called me Weapon and I've been Weapon ever since.
The best nickname has to be the one I gave Josh Howieson his junior year-the "Sniping Sasquatch." He's now the Sacking Sasquatch since he's been playing football for North Dakota State University.
Q: You are a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan. How did that come about and you must be happy with them in contention in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division?
DA: Growing up, my brother, Dave, couldn't stand Borje Salming and Rick Vaive, so naturally I went opposite and cheered for them. Then when the North Stars left Minnesota, the Maple Leafs became my team. I'm very excited for where the Maple Leafs are headed. Watching Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander play is a lot of fun. Being friends with Steve Briere, the Leafs' assistant coach/goalie coach, makes it extra special for me when the team succeeds.
Q: What products and services are you providing that no one else in the area can?
DA: Hockey House can offer a few services that no one else in the area provides, like skate riveting, skate baking, boot punching and guard repair. I also like to talk, (anyone who's been in the store knows this) so you know that there's always a stat or game being analyzed in the shop. I know I get on my soapbox quite a bit, but my wife is usually there to keep me in line.
Q: What will it take for Brainerd boys hockey to get over that section final hump and make a state tournament appearance and how crazy would the stands be at the X if that happened?
DA: The first group of kids that decides that enough is enough and they want to be the first team to make the state tournament is when it will happen. When it does, it's going to be a great experience for them and the entire community. I can hardly wait.
Q: You also pitched for the Brainerd Warriors baseball team. What was your out pitch and what other pitches were you throwing at people?
DA: I was your typical crafty lefty pitcher. My out pitch was a sinking fastball. I also threw a four-seam fastball and a curveball. I don't know if I threw hard enough to throw at people.