Off-ice members play important roles when it comes to maintaining a hockey team.
Two hockey operations support staff members who have gone above and beyond the job description are officially retiring from the Prince George Spruce Kings after their historic 2018-19 season.
Bill Baldridge and Rick Brown have been with the Junior ‘A’ club for nearly 20 seasons combined and have decided to call it careers after helping the hoisting the franchise’s first ever B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) Fred Page Cup and regional championship Doyle Cup, along with a finals appearance in the National Championship.
Baldridge joined the Spruce Kings in 2006 as its trainer before becoming team equipment manager in 2014.
He witnessed Prince George’s first contention for Hockey Canada’s Junior ‘A’ banner in 2007 when the northern capital hosted the annual tournament at the CN Centre, including the Spruce Kings’ record-breaking 3-2 semi-final win over Camrose in five overtime periods.
"Bill has been with the team for a lot of years and has been here with me personally every year that I've been involved,” said General Manager Mike Hawes in a statement. “He's an incredibly devoted and hard working individual whose work behind the scenes, for so many years, is the kind of work that makes a team successful. Our organization doesn't function without the work we get from people like Bill. He is a great man and a good friend and we will miss him around the rink."
After Baldridge switched positions, the team brought on Rick Brown as their new trainer.
Brown’s work on the bench included tending to injured players or helping out those that needed extra attention, ensuring they’re fit and ready to play in every game.
Despite spending a shorter time than others with the Spruce Kings, Hawes adds the impact he made on players will last a lifetime.
"His compassion and caring for everybody, especially the players, is second to none,” said Hawes. “We were fortunate to have Rick with us and he will be very difficult to replace. I know that he will be in the stands at our home games, cheering loud and hoping for nothing but the best for the players and the organization."
With both departures, Prince George is looking to fill their positions in the off-season so they can be fully prepared to defend their championships starting this September.
For more information, you can visit the Spruce Kings’ website.