SUN Hockey Pool

Off-ice workers feeling the sting

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

For more than 40 nights a season, Gord Simonin would don a blazer with the NHL crest on it and take his place in the Saddledome.

Simonin would either be working the penalty box, serving as a goal judge or doing real-time scoring.

With the league on the verge of cancelling the season due to the lockout, it appears neither Simonin, nor the rest of the local off-ice officials won't be at work.

Simonin, the only member of the crew who also works Hitmen and Roughnecks games, says the lost paycheque isn't the real shame.

"I don't miss the money so much as I miss the camaraderie," he said. "For some guys, say those who are retired, it's money they need but it's not really something you do that makes the difference between making it or breaking it. It's really something you do for the enjoyment.

"And it pays for a few rounds of golf."

The NHL's off-ice officials are paid between $60 and $75 per game, so it does pay for a few rounds of golf. Working Hitmen games is worth $25 per game.

But Simonin, who works full-time for Bell Canada, said it's not just about the spending cash.

"For me, doing this was a way to stay involved in the game," he said. "I began working Wranglers games -- I think Kelly Kisio's last year with the Wranglers was my first year -- when the Flames came to town and all the crew that did those games moved up."

Simonin, who also worked during Cannons games, began joining the team of officials for Flames games in the 1997-98 season. However, even without the NHL in action, he still spends plenty of time working, with the blessing of wife Carol and their daughter Kerri.

"With the Hitmen and the Roughnecks, I'm still spending lots of nights here," he said with a grin.


Videos

Photos