Friday, April 8, 2011

The Chilliwack story continues . . .

Tyler Olsen has a story in Friday’s edition of the Chilliwack Times that is a must-read if you have been following the sale and impending move of the Chillwack Bruins.
"I went through a divorce first, and I don't know which is worse," Andy Van Esch, the owner of AJ Pumps and someone who billeted Bruins players, told the Times on Wednesday at a Keep the Bruins in Chilliwack Rally.
Esch told the Times, a newspaper that publishes twice a week, that with the decision to move the Bruins he felt “kicked in the ass.”
According to Olsen’s story, Van Esch “estimates that he spent around $50,000
on tickets, advertising and other sponsorship deals, over the club's
five-year stay in Chilliwack.”
"I advertise because I feel that hockey is a good thing for Chilliwack; it's
good for keeping kids off the street," he said. "You do it because you want
to give something back and you believe in something."
There’s more, much more, in what is an absolutely scathing story that is critical of the Bruins’ ownership, especially governor and president Darryl Porter, and the WHL. That story is right here.
Meanwhile, Glen Ringdal has told Tim Amey of that the WHL wanted a franchise on Vancouver Island in the worst way. Ringdal has been consulting on behalf of Bruins minority owners Jim Bond and Moray Keith.
Amey writes:
“(Ringdal) says Victoria had been awarded an expansion franchise for the 2012-13 season quite some time ago. Problem is that means 23 teams for the WHL. That forces a 24th expansion team to balance out the schedule when the WHL never really wanted to go beyond 20 teams in the first place.  Moving an existing franchise became the best option.”
Ringdal also opines that Bruins majority owners Darryl Porter, Brian Burke and Glen Sather are selling to the Bruins to RG Properties “at the behest of the league, and so for us to be able to get support from the league level (to keep the franchise in Chilliwack) is not practical.”
Amey’s complete piece is right here.
Ringdal told Tyler Olsen of the Chilliwack Times that the WHL has approved the sale of the Bruins, which it revealed in a press release this week, and the relocation of the franchise, which it did not.
Ringdal also told the Times "there is a possibility that another team in the league may wish to relocate to Chilliwack and the only one that I'm aware of is Prince George that has some interest.
"That was reported long ago. That's not news from me, but whether or not that can happen, there's no deal in place . . . but we're prepared to talk and see if that's a possibility and, in the end, that would probably be good for everybody."
However, I have been told by someone who should know that the Cougars “are not in play.”
I also was told that there are people within the WHL who wanted the Cougars to be in play, but owner Rick Brodsky simply isn’t interested.
Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald, whose relationship, or lack of same, with Bruins governor/co-owner Darryl Porter goes back to his days with the Americans had some interesting quotes from former Chilliwack mayor Clint Hames earlier this week.
“I don’t know what the word is — the closest is betrayed,” Hames said of the sale and impending move of the Bruins.
Hames then compared it to the situation that developed when Porter wanted to move the Americans to Chilliwack, only to be refused permission. He ended up with an expansion franchise.
“One of the original thoughts was that the Tri-City team was fed up and wanted to move,” Hames told Fowler. “We were told Tri-City wasn’t a hockey market and no one was coming to the games. We were told it was like taking an old dog out of the shelter. That was the story we were told.
“We were disappointed when the league turned the move down. Then we learned quite quickly that what we heard about Tri-City was wrong. Then we got the expansion franchise. The building here is owned privately, but is in a partnership with the city. The city put $1.2 million into the building to add more seating and other things to bring a WHL team here. It not only was an emotional investment, but a monetary one, as well. It’s a little perplexing to have it all pulled away.”
As for Porter, Hames continued: “Darryl has projected a negativity toward the team the last couple of years. He says ‘No one supports us.’ The biggest job I had was settling people down after they met with him. I think he made his mind up shortly after arriving that this wasn’t going to work. He felt he was entitled to a full building. He often criticized the public for not supporting the team.”
At the end of the day, Hames added, “They’ve gone from creating a situation in Tri-City to the same situation in Chilliwack, now other places. When this all shakes out, I don’t think the league looks very good. Neither do Darryl and his partners.”
Fowler’s entire piece is right here.
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