If you were told that hockey is coming back to Red Deer you’d think that hockey never left Red Deer. True, it hasn’t and for the most part you’d be right. Except, a part of Red Deer hockey did leave. The Red Deer College Kings were disbanded in 2004, but now they’re back baby! It all started with powerful words from an ex-Kings coach back in March 2010.
“He’s a hard guy to say no to,” said RDC President Joel Ward, who remembers how Stanley Cup winning head coach Mike Babcock urged the return of Kings hockey during a visit to the City last year.
Babcock is not known as a guy that mixes words — when he says jump, the Detroit Red Wings say ‘How high?’ and ‘Please sir, we want more’.
The comment from Babcock over a year ago sparked movement in Ward.
“We started to talk with community supporters. I met many, many folks from the hockey community in Central Alberta and they made the message really clear – ‘Bring it back. We’ll help you. We’re committed to this.’”
That should say enough right there. We love our hockey. Humble football player Terrell Owens once said, “I love me, some me!” Well, Central Alberta is screaming, “I love me some, hockey!” And we’re going to get more hockey, this time at the collegiate level.
Bringing back the Kings hockey program began with Babcock’s comments, but quietly started getting fueled by the Athletics Leadership Fund. This fund boosts the College’s financial commitment to athletics, by allowing the public to invest in RDC Kings and Queens student-athletes. A novel idea that has allowed athletics at the college level to flourish in the United States. Don’t believe it? Well what do you think has made the NCAA college football program the juggernaut that it is, bake sales?
“Basically it’s a 22 month process. So what happens is November 15th we turn in our application,” said Keith Hansen, RDC’s athletic director. By May of 2012, Red Deer College will know if the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference accepts their bid.
“After that it’s just basically putting everything in process to play in 2013.”
So far, no moves have been made and no one has been recruited for the Kings hockey team. It’s way too early. That doesn’t mean that RDC athletic staff aren’t dreaming.
“I’d be lying if we didn’t sit around saying, ‘What about this guy?’, ‘What about that guy?’,” said Hansen.
Rest assured, when the time comes for recruitment, the Kings will have to look no further than their ex-coach Babcock, to get the ball rolling.