Glen Ringdal has retired from the Chilliwack Chiefs, ending a hugely successful run as business boss of the junior A franchise and Prospera Centre.
Chiefs head coach/general manager Brian Maloney adds running the building to his already full plate while Ringdal heads off to enjoy sunshine and well-deserved downtime in California.
Ringdal made public his intention to step away with a tweet late last week and was in the building for last Saturday’s 7-5 home-ice win over Coquitlam.
Now 74 years old, he took the job in 2011 when the Quesnel Millionaires relocated to Chilliwack, filling the void left by the bitter departure of the Western Hockey League’s Chilliwack Bruins. In a market soured on hockey, he was tasked with rebuilding trust and relationships, establishing ties between the team and the community and proving to Chilliwack that the new Chiefs were a team worth investing in, monetarily and emotionally.
Ringdal was the right guy for the job, a schmoozer who walked the concourse at games striking up conversations with strangers like they were lifelong friends.
Behind closed doors he was a dealmaker with a big-picture vision.
“The one thing I think is really important is where our attendance has gotten to relative to all other junior clubs in Canada,” he said. “We’ve always been in the top two or three, and several years we’ve been number one, and I think that’s a real achievement.”
“I always thought there was a bonafide love for hockey in Chilliwack, and if we put the right package together people would come out and support it, and I think the numbers show that.”
But it was never easy and the job took a heavy toll.
“When we got here in 2011 we had to start basically from scratch and rebuild the whole organization the way it suited us,” he said. “I worked a lot of 10 to 12 hour days back then, renting an apartment in Chilliwack for five years while my wife (Sherry) was still back in Coquitlam looking after her aging father.
“I drove back home on weekends or whenever I could, and after five years it just wasn’t right. I had to get back home with her, and that meant I had to drive back and forth a lot more, and that just became more and more onerous. Too often I was almost falling asleep driving home in the evenings.”
Eight months ago, Ringdal told Chiefs/Prospera staffers that he was going to pull back.
“I’ll be working on the business but not in the business, and I won’t be here all the time,” he informed them. “You guys do all the work anyways, so I’ll just stick my nose in where needed.”
Last spring’s RBC Cup will go down as the signature moment of Ringdal’s time in Chilliwack.
Most assumed he would leave after he got to hoist the national championship trophy over his head last May. A perfect time to ride off into the sunset.
“It was a really important thing,” he said. “Our goal to be the best junior A club in Canada would never have been complete without a national championship.”
But Ringdal still had unfinished business, overseeing a complete overhaul of the front-office at Prospera Centre.
“We’ve reorganized the whole structure, both for the building and the team, over the last six months, and I think it’s all well-set,” he explained. “We’ve got the right people in the right seats on the bus and they’re doing a great job, and with all respect to me, I’m a little superfluous.
“It’s going to be up to the owners who serves as the governor, and whether they even have a president, because it’s more a ceremonial title than anything else. But Brian (Maloney) is the boss now.”
Ringdal said he’ll still be making trips to Chilliwack from time to time, especially if the team goes on a long playoff run.
“(Chiefs/Prospera Centre owners) Moray (Keith) and Jim (Bond) have some ideas for things they want to be involved in and there might be an opportunuity to be involved in some things that are closer to home, and I’m the chair of the Tire Stewardship Board of B.C., so that’ll continue to take up some of my time,” Ringdal said. “But between that, golfing and spending more time with Sherry I think I’ll be pretty well occupied.”