Sean Rooney is the sports editor of the Medicine Hat News. He wrote a column for the Saturday paper that appeared under this headline:
A (fictional, sarcastic) letter to the WHL's fans
Dear loyal fans of (insert your home team here):
Thanks for your money, your dedication, your willingness to sit through seasons upon seasons of poorly performing teams (and good teams, as well) and especially for helping fund the arena the team plays in.
For years, you’ve seen top-notch major junior hockey players come through your community, and you’ve welcomed them with loving arms. Some of you have billeted, others have seen them at the local mall and given them some positive encouragement. Most importantly, you have paid to see them -- more on that later.
Well, as of today, things are a bit different. You see, we’ve all but given the all-clear for the Chilliwack Bruins -- a team that’s been in the league only five years but draws better than 3,000 fans a night -- to be sold and moved to Victoria. We didn’t ask the Chilliwack municipal government, and we certainly didn’t ask the fans. The only people who matter in this equation are the guys who own the team. Check that, only the guys who own the majority of the team.
A couple of minority owners wanted to ante up and buy out the guys who wanted to move the franchise, but we said no.
Anyhow, the message to you is simple: No matter how much you support your team, and no matter what other reasons you might have to the contrary, we really don't care what you think. Your loyalty to us is great, but we really don't feel the same way about you.
When people came asking about the possible sale of the Bruins, we told them to shoo off. When one of the Bruins owners confirmed the sale and move, we refused to talk to anyone in the public about it, then muzzled everyone in our league with confidentiality agreements. You'll hear what we want you to hear, when we want you to hear it.
This is all about money. Even though our athletes aren't yet professionals, and most of our owners make money hand over fist, we want as much cash as we can get. Put simply, we think there's more money-making potential in Victoria than in Chilliwack, so off we go.
You'll remember that Chilliwack got its team because the former owner in Tri-City wanted to move that team to Chilliwack. We had some remnants of a soul back then, and forced the owner to sell to a local group so the team could stay. But to make the old owner happy we diluted the entire league's talent pool by creating an expansion franchise in Chilliwack for him to run.
Given that we've set this glorious precedent, we figure there's little to stop us from moving your team as well. If, say, your team goes through a bit of a dry spell, and if, say, the fine folks of a more prosperous city push for a team, we will absolutely pull the plug on your franchise. No number of public rallies, Facebook groups or empty threats will change our mind. You get the picture — it's about whoever wants to plunk down a thicker stack of bills.
Your loyalty is absolutely still worth something to us though. Just not as much as the millionaire owners. Go (insert your team name here) go!
The Western Hockey League