Friday, March 4, 2011

Victoria Bruins?

One day last week a Chilliwack Bruins’ season-ticket holder -- yes, there are some! -- asked in an email if I might have any idea why the team hadn’t yet sent out season-ticket renewal notices.
Alarm bells went off immediately, although my response was somewhat more tepid. At the time, I was prepared to cut the Bruins some slack and wrote back that perhaps they were waiting to tie them into playoff ticket sales. Then, when I thought about it, I wondered why the playoff vouchers hadn’t already gone out and, if they had, why weren't season-ticket forms with them?
Perhaps we now know the answer.
Because now it would seem that, while they may not have the moving van backed up to the door, the Bruins have at least looked up the phone number.
Tyler Olsen of the Chilliwack Times has spoken with Darryl Porter, one of the franchise’s owners, and there isn’t one speck of hope there if you’re a Bruins’ fan.
Olsen’s story is right here.
At the end of the story, Porter does say that season-ticket renewals are in the works. Although it would seem the horse has left the barn and the Bruins just may want to save on the postage.
You can bet that the denials are soon to start flying from all directions, and we're going to hear words like "due diligence" a lot, too. But there is far too much smoke here to ignore the fact that Victoria is closer to getting a WHL franchise than it has been since the Cougars left for Prince George after the 1993-94 season.
When you combine Porter’s comments with the story that is in Friday’s Victoria Times Colonist, well, how does Victoria Bruins sound?
According to the Times Colonist, the city of Victoria has told RG Properties that it “will extend RG Properties' lease at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre to 2046 if the company can secure a Western Hockey League franchise.”
So, when you put two and two together, along with the fact that RG boss Graham Lee apparently was spotted at a recent Bruins' game, well, it would seem things are moving right along.
The problem, of course, is that the WHL has long said it doesn’t want to go back to Vancouver Island unless there are two teams located there. And, at the moment, Victoria is the home of the only arena that meets WHL standards.
However, there now are two people with WHL ties who are involved at the ownership level with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Bill Gallacher, who owns the Portland Winterhawks, and former WHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey, who also is involved with the WHL alumni, are among the Clippers’ owners, so perhaps a plan is afoot to build a new arena in that city.
And, for what it’s worth, I heard from one WHL insider today who said he had heard that RG Properties has had a deal in place with a WHL franchise since some time in October.
We may never find out whether that is true. We also will never know whether the arrival of the AHL's Abbotsford Heat had anything to do with the predicament in which the Bruins find themselves. If it did, though, Bruins ownership must be just livid with the NHL's Calgary Flames. They, of course, own the WHL's Calgary Hitmen and the Heat is the Flames's top minor league affiliate.
’Tis the time of the season when NHL teams are trolling the waters in search of signable free agents.
In the last week, we’ve seen the Dallas Stars sign D Brenden Dillon, 20, of the Seattle Thunderbirds. And, on Friday, the San Jose Sharks signed D Sena Acolatse, 20, of the Prince George Cougars.
Next up?
Perhaps it will be C Tyler Johnson, 20, of the Spokane Chiefs. He is said to have at least two offers on the table in front of him, with more than a couple of other teams also circling and checking out the situation.
Johnson’s numbers, his defensive play and his prowess in the faceoff circle make you wonder what’s taken so long?

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