Bill Ranford Sr. in his sports card and memorabilia store located at 4781-49 Street in Red Deer. Ranford�s son Bill played nine seasons for the Edmonton Oilers and now is the goaltending coach for the Los Angeles Kings.

Bill Ranford Sr. in his sports card and memorabilia store located at 4781-49 Street in Red Deer. Ranford�s son Bill played nine seasons for the Edmonton Oilers and now is the goaltending coach for the Los Angeles Kings.

Hockey fans ready to throw in towel

Get used to no hockey night in Canada.

Get used to no hockey night in Canada.

It could be the 2004-2005 or the 1994-1995 season all over again.

National Hockey League players were locked out of the hockey arenas in 30 North American cities on Sept. 16 when the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association could not agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. The big issue on the table is how to split $3.3 billion in revenues.

To the devoted hockey fan, it’s something that is both frustrating and disappointing to watch millionaires fight over dollars and cents in a boardroom when the players should be fighting for the puck in the corners.

To Bill Ranford Sr., hockey dad to former Edmonton Oiler and current Los Angles Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford, it is equally upsetting because he said the issue could easily be settled in a 50-50 split.

“The fans go see the players,” said Ranford, who owns Bill Sr.’s Sportscards in downtown Red Deer.

“They don’t go see the owners.”

Ranford said the fans and the people who work in the arenas and behind the scenes will be the ones who suffer if the season is completely cancelled as witnessed in 2004-2005 or shortened as it was in the 1994-1995 season.

His grandson, Brendan Ranford, a leading scorer for the Kamloops Blazers was invited for a try out at the Montreal Canadiens training camp. Camps were supposed to get underway last week.

“He doesn’t get the chance to try out which kinda sucks,” said Ranford. “I am disappointed for him but I am more disappointed for the hockey fans… And those other people they are the ones who get the dirty end of the stick.”

His LA Kings son will continue to work with the minor league affiliates and draft picks during the lockout.

Ranford’s sports card store took a financial hit during the last lockout.

But he is positive the fans will return to his shop and to the NHL when the two sides inevitably work it out.

“In general Canadians will come back,” said Ranford. “But I think they are really upset. You know what? They should be… Just get back and play hockey.”

Hockey dad Kelly Jacobson of Red Deer remembered the last lockout and didn’t like it one bit.

“It’s going to be the fans who are going to be suffering,” said Jacobson. “We pay their salaries through our ticket sales and buying jerseys. It is tough pill to swallow when billionaire owners are locking out millionaire players.”

Jacobson said his hockey loving children Ayla, 6, and Connor, 10, will just have to go without NHL hockey for a bit, put their money elsewhere and support the Red Deer Rebels.

“I will be left with a bad taste in my mouth and I think it will take some time to get back enjoying hockey again,” said Jacobson.

Likewise Chris Siwak and his family will turn their hockey attention to the Red Deer Rebels and the Western Hockey League.

“It’s frustrating because they’ve had a long time to sit down and sort this out,” said Siwak. “I will look for other things to do. There’s still hockey around. We have a junior team here. It will be a boost to them.”

The two sides have not met formally since Sept. 12. In the meantime, the NHLPA is trying to convince the Alberta Labour Relations Board that the current lockout is illegal.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com