Last week the hockey community was saddened to learn of the death of Morrisburg Junior B Lions franchise owner Ron Casselman at his home in Morrisburg on Tuesday, November 13. Mr. Casselman purchased the Morrisburg Junior B Lions in 1980, and so began 32 years of dedication to the game he so loved and the young men he mentored.
As in keeping with what Ron would have wanted, the Lions’ scheduled game against the Char-Lan Rebels on Friday night went on as planned. His granddaughters Kasey, Kari and Katie dropped the puck to officially open the game, and his grandson Cody coached the game with former Lions coach Thom Raccine on the bench for support.
At the end of the game, which the Lions won 8-4, in honour of a man they greatly respected, the players skated to the overhead box where Ron would be found at most every Junior B Lions game, for one final salute. In fact, each time they scored that night, they skated to Ron’s box.
The following is a speech written and presented Friday night by Thom Raccine who has been a member of the Lions coaching staff and worked closely with Ron for the past several years.
“Before our game tonight, the Lions are honouring the memory of our owner and biggest fan, Ron Casselman, who passed away on Tuesday.
The Lions and Rebels will dedicate tonight’s rivalry to Ron and his passion for Junior B hockey, by wearing helmet stickers in his honour.
When hockey fans think of the Morrisburg Lions, the image of the stout man with the deep voice is all you really need to know.
Before every game, Ron asked in his jovial deep voice, “what do ya think tonight big fellar?” That voice and that image will never be forgotten.
Ron Casselman’s love of junior hockey began a long time ago, first as a fan, then 32 years ago, when he became the owner of the Junior B Lions. To the many fans of Lions hockey, Ron exemplified what small town hockey teams are about. He revelled in the wins and wore each loss on his sturdy face.
Thirty-two years is an eternity in the hockey business. To have stayed through the tough times is a credit to his love of the game, the people in the league and most of all his players. He really did love the kids, as his own, even if they didn’t know it. Ron Casselman saw hundreds of players. He was proud to say that the fact that they were trying out for his team, meant the world to him.
Ron didn’t always understand the players today, but it never knocked him down. He tried to adjust to our funny ways and although he chalked it up to a different generation, Ron stayed very close to the pulse of what made his teams tick.
Under Ron, the Lions won four St. Lawrence Division titles and two Rideau Division titles. He mentored his son Kevin, from coaching to general manager.
Tonight, in honour of his grandfather, Cody Casselman will be behind the bench, keeping in the family tradition.
Four weeks ago, I sat with Ron in what we affectionately call the owners box. The weight of the world was on his shoulders and there was no doubt something was bothering him. I sensed a distance, a man alone with his memories of a lifetime devoted to his team. Oh he still watched every play and disputed a few calls, but as much as he tried, he simply wasn’t himself.
This morning, Ron Casselman took one last ride by the place he felt most at home…the arena that gave him so much pride.
Tonight, Ron’s owners box sits empty, in honour of a great hockey man.
Tonight, as our Lions get set for another 8:30 start against our rivals from Char-Lan, take a second to glance over to the southeast corner every now and then, because Ron Casselman will be there, big as life, as he has been for the past 32 years.”