WNY Athletics

Schultzs’ commitment to hockey earns enshrinement into Howell Motors Ford Hall of Fame

Photos courtesy WNYGirlsHockey.com

The first (and perhaps only) story Jason Hervey from “The Wonder Years” has preserved in his home is written by Randy Schultz.

Hervey was a part of a celebrity hockey team that would go around the country and play for charity. So, Schultz decided to a story about him for the Los Angeles Kings program magazine. Hervey said it was the first time someone had asked him about his hockey background.

“A year later we met him and he recognized me,” Schultz said. “He said ‘I get all these other things in these teen magazines and Hollywood magazines that want all the gossip. You wanted hockey.’ I was very flattered.”

It’s those out-of-the-box hockey stories that have been the hallmark for Schultz, who has been a freelance hockey writer for 48 seasons.

“I was trying to think of stories that other outlets wouldn’t do,” he says. “I would come from any angle to the point where I was even doing stories on Hollywood celebrities that love the game, even going so far as looking as looking into baseball and football for guys who had hockey backgrounds.”

It’s that love and commitment to the game as the reason why he and his wife Janet are being inducted into the Howell Motors Ford Hockey Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Cornerstone Arena in Lockport.

“It’s always an honor,” Schultz said. “I’ve been a very fortunate individual in this media business. I’m a survivor. I have survived for 48 seasons. To survive that long in a major league sport – I guess I’m very surprised.”

This year’s ceremony will celebrate the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes. The Schultzs are being inducted as members of the Class of 2020. Randy is a member of the selection committee and the rest of the committee managed to keep the secret from him for almost a year before his induction was announced.

“After the 2019 ceremony I went to all of the members of the committee except Randy and I said ‘guys I think it’s time we put Randy and Janet in the Hall of Fame,” Hall of Fame founder Mike Landers said. “Everyone said absolutely without a doubt.”

Landers didn’t really know Schultz before he asked to become a part of the selection committee, when he started the Hall of Fame in conjunction with the Cornerstone Arena’s opening, but he had followed his work since childhood.

“I call Randy my right hand with the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Landers says. “He takes meticulous notes, he researches. They are so dedicated to hockey, it’s their life.”

Longtime Buffalo media member Budd Bailey has known Randy for over 40 years.

Ironically, they met each other covering a Buffalo Braves game. A few years later, they reacquainted themselves at a Sabres game and have remained close ever since. Bailey even had Schultz come in as a guest several times on his hockey show at WEBR in the mid-1980s.

“We start with enthusiasm for hockey at all levels,” Bailey explains about Randy. “No matter what the game of hockey is he’s there. Almost anybody can get excited about going to a Sabres game but it takes some enthusiasm to want to go to a 16U tournament in a cold hockey rink.

“His stories are reflective of his personality, he’s not a slasher. He’s always been very good and factual. You can take to the bank whatever he writes.”

It’s an enthusiasm that Janet shared for four decades – often down on the ice with her camera.

“I would’ve never dreamed the day we said ‘I do’ on the altar that she would’ve fallen for hockey as much as she did,” Randy said.

While spending time at the rink wasn’t in their wedding vows, hockey ended up getting squeezed into their honeymoon.

Defenseman Jerry Korab was traded from the Sabres to the LA Kings just a few days after their wedding. The newly-married couple had already made plans to head to LA for their honeymoon and Randy was able to get a media pass from a friend for two LA Kings games.

Janet didn’t protest.

“That’s when I knew I had the right one picked as my wife,” Randy said.

A few years later, Randy suggested to Janet, who had a liking for photography, to try shooting a couple of hockey games.

“I didn’t have great equipment then so they are not great pictures but I found out I really did like it and it just grew from there,” Janet says.

With the induction ceremony coming up, Randy recently sat down and figured out that he has worked for or with nearly 50 media organizations across the globe that are all connected to hockey.

Schultz has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since the 1974-1975 season when he freelanced for WUSJ radio (now WLVL 1340 AM). He later covered the team for The Hockey News. His byline has also shown up in Hockey Illustrated, Hockey Digest, USA Hockey Magazine, USA Today and even a German-based hockey magazine.

“When we started getting some German players over here, I contacted them through email,” Schultz said. “They responded back to me and said, ‘no problem, you send it to us in English and we’ll translate it to German.”

With the internet and social media beginning to take off in the early 2000s, Randy and Janet knew they needed to make a change.

“I was freelancing at the time for Western New York Hockey magazine,” Randy said. “I remember the night; we were at the Sabres game and they made a big announcement you’ll be able to get your Sabres information on your phone and on the internet and I looked at the editor and you really better start doing some serious looking at what’s going on. They are going to throw features on the internet. We gotta go in a different direction.”

Out of that NY Hockey Online was born and the Schultzs showed that their love of the game extended to all levels.

“I don’t care if it’s high school, I don’t care if it’s college, whatever,” Randy says, who is a hockey color commentator for WNY Athletics. “Those people really need coverage.”

“I love covering the kids and giving them their due,” Janet says. “Even if it’s five minutes somewhere on the internet, in a magazine because that’s grassroots hockey.”

A few years later, Janet was approached by some parents who were looking to start a high school girls hockey league in WNY. The WNYGVIHF just wrapped its 12th season this winter.

Janet calls the players “my girls.”

Older players know whenever someone is there with a camera it’s probably Janet and some teams even take time out of their warm-up just to pose for pictures.

Randy’s two biggest memories from his time covering hockey – came just last month surrounding the retirement of longtime Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret.

“Hollywood couldn’t have written it any better,” Schultz said about the season finale. “I was fortunate I got to see Rick walk out of the press box for the last time and I’m not afraid to admit it I had tears in my eyes.”

Unlike Jeanneret, the Schultzs have no plans of slowing down.

Between the Sabres, minor league, high school and amateur hockey, Randy has attended a personal record 96 games this season. Janet isn’t too far behind.

And they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon

“As long as I’m feeling up to it I’m going to keep doing it,” Randy says. “In my old age, Stan Fischler has kind of become my idol. Stan is almost 90, living in Israel, and still does hockey. He’s still going strong. If a 90-year-old guy can do it, I can do it.”

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