Russ Rankin dreams of one day being at the NHL draft. But not as a player being selected.
Rankin, lead singer of the punk band Good Riddance, wants to be dressed in a suit and tie, having chosen the players at an NHL champion's table.
Perhaps the world’s only hockey scout with neck tattoos, the 44-year-old may be on his way to making it to the show. Since 2007, he's been the California/U.S. Regional Scout for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League, a Canadian junior league that regularly produces NHL stars.
The gig started when Rankin asked a good friend -- and a fan of his band -- about getting some kind of job in hockey.
Who is that friend? Ice owner and four-time Stanley Cup champion Scott Niedermayer.
Rankin, who'd been living and breathing hockey since the '80s, soon got the job scouting for Kootenay, based in Cranbrook, British Columbia.
“They didn’t have to pay to fly a scout back and forth,” Rankin said recently. “It’s been an awesome way to get my foot in the door.”
He mainly scouts for promising 14- and 15-year-old players in Southern California. Those players get selected each year in a WHL draft.
The youngsters don’t know Rankin’s band put out seven albums on Fat Wreck Chords, an extremely influential punk record label. It’s lost upon most teenagers that the scout is a bona fide rock star.
“Most of the kids I scout are too young,” he said. “But I’ve been at some tournaments and they start playing one of my songs. They have no idea I’m there. It’s pretty surreal.”
Rankin hasn’t given up on music. His first solo album, “Farewell Catalonia,” comes out Aug. 7. And after nearly four years apart, Good Riddance has begun playing a few live dates.
In the meantime, he’ll be hanging out at rinks around California looking for the next member of the Kootenay Ice.