Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Shop Talk: Thank you, Arizona, for 25 great years supporting BTM


It may be a ways away, but preparations are already underway for the BTM 25th Anniversary Extravaganza to be held on Saturday, March 16, at BTM Scottsdale.

People thought we were crazy to open a hockey store back in March of 1994 in the middle of the desert.

And looking back, we were crazy.


There were two full-time ice sheets in town at that time – Tower Plaza and Oceanside. The lack of freeways made both much harder to reach than now. And there were also a couple inline rinks – the Glendale YMCA and Hockey on Wheels. Both long gone.

At our grand opening in March 1994, we did not have one piece of hockey equipment in the store.

Our first store on 75th Ave. and Cactus was 400 square feet of retail space.

We had just gotten approval to be a Rollerblade account. Back when fitness skating was wildly popular, Rollerblade ventured into the inline hockey market. That lasted a few years until they realized that inline hockey was not their forte. It would be years before we got CCM and Bauer accounts.

Our store at the time sold sports cards and pogs. Anyone remember the pog craze? Kids would come in after school buy and play pogs in the middle of the store. One of those kids, Beau Saugling, has been the longtime manager of BTM Peoria. Every once in a while, someone brings up buying sports cards or pogs from us.

Over the 25 years, many hockey companies have come and gone – Graf, Eagle and Easton, to name a few.

Then in 1996, an amazing thing happened. The Winnipeg Jets were relocated to the Valley of the Sun and the Phoenix Coyotes were born. New hockey players turned up in droves. Hockey began to be a relevant sport here. New rinks were built. NHL players retired and started coaching youth hockey in town. Arizona State University got an NCAA Division I team and a player from Arizona – Auston Matthews – was chosen first overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Could we have ever imagined this in 1994?

For our 25th anniversary, we will be having some great events at BTM Scottsdale and in-store deals at all locations.

BTM Scottsdale will be hosting Smashfest II, in which Bauer, CCM and Warrior will have demo sticks to shoot off synthetic ice – shooting at TVs, fridges, glasses, and lots of other breakable items. Each person will receive three FREE shots – to see how much damage they can inflict. Five additional shots will be available to purchase for $5. All the money raised will be donated to the Arizona Humane Society, a cause dear to our hearts.

Test out sticks while helping a great cause. There will be lots of free swag.

The vendors are all on board to help make this a great event, much different than 25 years ago when Bauer would not even return our call for the first couple years.

We will start to take any donations for Smashfest II in the New Year. Anything breakable we will put to good use. Last Smashfest for those who attended, we had a car that we shot at. Remember that?

We cannot thank the entire Arizona hockey community enough for 25 wonderful years.

And for the lifelong friendships we have made.

Thank you!

Randy Exelby is the owner of Behind The Mask Hockey Shops.

(Jan. 10, 2019)

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