Impact of hockey lockout felt by locals

Hockey in one form or another has always been a part of Bill Ranford Sr.’s life.

Whether it was playing during his military career, watching his son Bill Jr. toil in the National Hockey League as a player and now a coach, seeing his grandsons hitting the ice in the Western Hockey League in Kamloops or the midget level in Stettler and now swapping lies with his friends in his cozy little sports card shop.

“I watch more hockey than any 100 people I know,” he said.

So you can understand how his blood pressure rises whenever the NHL lockout is mentioned.

“The last lockout in ’05 I had to ‘lend’ my store some money to be able to keep going and it took me until a year ago to pay it back,” said Ranford.

The latest situation isn’t bringing back any fond memories and Ranford says the customer traffic during a normal season can be light but now with the players in a boardroom instead of a dressing room, the impact is tremendous.

“It’s really affecting my business, probably up to 70 per cent down,” he said.

He blames himself though for putting the focus of his shop heavy onto hockey which he figures is about 98% of his business.

“Without the players playing, without the new cards, without the rookies, people just aren’t interested.”

Bill Jr. who has been a coach in Los Angeles for the past six seasons is also being impacted by the lockout and Ranford says his son is just as anxious about the situation as the regular fan might be.

“He wants them on the ice as much as any person, any fan I know of and it’s not happening and he’s not pleased either,” he said.

When it comes to the fans Ranford says back in 2005 hockey lovers were just waiting for the lockout to end so we could just watch hockey but now there is some real unhappiness from fans whom he has known for years, he said.

“It really exploded when (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman talked about taking two weeks off and here we’re just waiting and waiting for hockey to start.”

Ranford says in the last lockout fans took sides for the most part blaming one over the other but this time the anger over the situation is being directed almost evenly to both owners and players, he said.

Ranford isn’t convinced there will be a deal to salvage a season and even if there is he thinks the fan reaction will be a shock to the players and owners.

“I think this time and I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think Canadians are going to come back as strong as they did in ’05.”

When it comes to the little guy being impacted by the lockout Ranford says he feels strongly about how the security staff, ticket takers, parking lot attendants and concession workers who have been hit hard.

“Those were the people who always made me feel welcome at a game,” he said.

But the small business owner stops short of feeling sorry for his own situation.

“In all honesty, this is a hobby for me and I’m enjoying it tremendously but I want hockey,” he said. “ I don’t care about this (his shop) as much as I do want them back on the ice.

“The NHL is a big part of my life and I miss it and so do my friends and my customers.”

sports@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Local youngsters lend a helping hand to the Red Deer Hospital

First Steps and Beyond School students donate to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Red Deer RCMP arrest man during break and enter in progress

RCMP found two males in the parking garage attempting to steal a vehicle

Red Deer RCMP announce new Officer in Charge

Grobmeier has 26 years of service with the RCMP where he has moved through the ranks across Canada

CAT’s latest, Real Estate, fueled by strong performances

Shows run through to March 30th at the Black Knight Inn

Red Deer resident releases a set of inspiring new titles

Bev Burton excited to share her story via Create Your Calm Waters and Arise & Shine

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

B.C. argues it cannot stop Trans Mountain, but it can protect environment

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says only Ottawa has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick retires in wake of SNC-Lavalin case

Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Wernick of pressuring her to head off criminal charges for the firm

Dutch tram shooting suspect arrested, say police

Police say three people were killed in the shooting Monday and five wounded

Canada extends Iraq and Ukraine military missions to 2021 and 2022

Extension is part of efforts to curb Russian aggression and to fight against Islamic militants

WestJet suspends 2019 financial guidance after Boeing 737 Max grounded

The company has 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft grounded by regulators after the Ethiopian crash

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram; mayor says terror likely

Utrecht police release photo of 37-year-old man born in Turkey who is ‘associated with the incident’

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

Most Read