When a small child showed up to a Canucks game with a banana, hoping to trade it for one of Andrei Kuzmenko’s sticks, Kuzmenko was happy to oblige.
“When you see a three or four-year-old kid wants a stick and smile so bad, how can you say no?” said Kuzmenko after the game via interpreter Vitaly Kravtsov. “I just try to make his life much better.”
Fans have since shown up for warm-up with all sorts of produce, hoping to make a similar trade, forcing Kuzmenko to drive a harder bargain.
“First day after banana, I go to skate, I see the [signs],” said Kuzmenko. “It’s a lot of, ‘Please [trade], please [trade].’ I see it’s maybe seven, eight — ‘Oh no! I don’t like this moment!’ My serviceman say, ‘Hey, stick [amount] is very small, no, no.’ I say, ‘Mac, please, is a lot of sons, is a lot of children.’”
That would be Assistant Equipment Manager Mac Stewart trying to keep Kuzmenko from giving away all of his sticks, though Kuzmenko said now he has “a lot of sticks” and that it’s “no problem.”
The reason why Kuzmenko is so happy to give away sticks and meet the fans is simple: “Twenty years ago, I was a fan.”
Still, Kuzmenko wants to up the ante. Bananas are passé.
“Yes, I think maybe banana is finished,” said Kuzmenko. "I want, maybe, chocolate, yes? I like chocolate, yes. Maybe KitKat, Twix, I like it. Next [trade] sticks, is maybe Twix, KitKat. And my friends say, they want meat for grill. Good meat: chicken, maybe steak. Maybe next stick is over fence, I get back meat, chicken, milk — thanks!”
Kuzmenko is opening the door here for fans to bring him all sorts of groceries. There are a lot of great options that could net you a Kuzmenko stick but you have to be careful: there are also a lot of pitfalls that could trip you up.
With that in mind, here’s PITB’s guide on what foods you should not bring to a Canucks game to trade for Kuzmenko’s stick.
1 | Raw chicken
As much as Kuzmenko said that he wants meat for the grill, under no circumstances should you try to throw raw meat over the Rogers Arena glass in exchange for a hockey stick.
That goes for all raw meat, which should be kept refrigerated — a hockey rink does not count as refrigeration. You definitely shouldn’t bring raw chicken into the arena, which can carry Salmonella.
In other words, only bring cooked meat to trade with Kuzmenko: a whole rotisserie chicken seems like a fair trade and can be purchased from Costco right across the street from Rogers Arena. Just tell the staff at the gate that you’re bringing the chicken to trade for a stick and I’m sure they’ll let you right in.
2 | Milk
Kuzmenko also mentioned trading a stick for milk, which doesn’t seem wise. Not only is there the whole refrigeration issue like with the meat, but a mis-aimed milk throw over the glass could lead to disaster. Nobody wants a milk bomb landing on them or spraying all over the ice.
3 | Loose Salad
Do not throw loose salad greens over the glass. It will not end well. Also, the dressing will be a wet mess.
4 | Mentos and Diet Pepsi
You think you’re clever with your “Kuz-Mentos!” sign but what if those Mentos get into the Diet Pepsi and cause an explosion of fizz all over the place? Think!
5 | Coca-Cola
Kuzmenko drinks Pepsi. We’ve established that already. If you bring him Coca-Cola, it just shows you’re not a real fan.
6 | Octopus
Maybe Kuzmenko is a fan of octopus but throwing an octopus onto the ice at a hockey game is more of a Detroit thing.
Also, maybe octopuses shouldn't be food.
7 | Tomatoes
As much as tomatoes are one of the tastiest nightshades, throwing a tomato could be misconstrued. Tomatoes are for throwing at bad vaudeville acts, not good hockey players.
If you throw tomatoes at Kuzmenko, don’t expect a hockey stick but a vaudeville hook.
8 | Eggs
Throwing eggs is typically a bad idea, unless they’re hard-boiled. No one wants to have to clean up egg yolk on ice.
Also, you run the risk of being banned from carrying eggs in public, like the guy who threw eggs at King Charles, and that would just lead to a nightmare when you go grocery shopping.
9 | A hockey stick
First of all, a hockey stick is not food. Second of all, you’ve got the trade all backwards. You’re trying to get a stick from Kuzmenko, not the other way around.
Kuzmenko is not going to trade his stick for a hockey stick of lesser value.