Monday, March 3, 2014

Cougars deal could be close

The WHL without anyone from the Brodsky family involved at the ownership level? Yes, it appears the time has come.
The Brodsky family has owned at least part of a WHL franchise since 1976 when Nate Brodsky, the family patriarch, along with Jackie McLeod and Joe Reich purchased the Saskatoon Blades from Jim Piggott.
On Dec. 1, 1980, Brodsky bought out his partners and took complete control of the franchise.
Sons Bob, Jack and Rick and daughter Debbie later became involved at the ownership level, before Rick left to purchase the Victoria Cougars, a franchise that he later moved to Prince George.
With Rick gone, Jack became the face of the Blades’ ownership, something that lasted until earlier this season when the Blades were sold to Edmonton-based auto dealer Mike Priestner.
And now Rick is in the process of selling the Cougars, likely to local interests including NHLers Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis, both of them former Prince George players.
“The Prince George Cougars have been sold to local businessman Greg Pocock and a group of investors that includes NHL players and former Cougars Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis, say several sources close to the team,”
That’s how Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen began a story that appears in Monday’s newspaper.
“Pocock is the owner of Prince George Hydromechanical, an industrial cleaning services contractor, and is co-owner of Forest Power Sports, a Prince George-based recreational vehicle dealership,” the story continues. “The local sources, who requested anonymity, say the team was purchased for close to $7 million, while longtime owner Rick Brodsky had been asking for $8 million. With a tentative deal now in place, it still has to receive approval from the WHL head office and be passed by the league's board of directors.”
Clarke’s complete story is right here.
As I understand it, a sale has yet to be completed. I was told earlier today that nothing has been signed, nor has any money changed hands, but that serious talks are ongoing.
If a sale does get completed, it would bring to an end Rick Brodsky’s up-and-down relationship with the hockey fans of Prince George. Presumably, local ownership would keep the team in Prince George because should it ever leave you have to believe that the WHL wouldn’t be in any rush to return. Why not? The reasons are strictly geographic . . . teams aren’t at all enthralled with the bus ride to P.G., either from Kamloops or Edmonton.
Meanwhile, Clarke also had this in his story: “The Cougars have been the subject of rumours they would be moved to Nanaimo or Winnipeg. But Nanaimo lacks a WHL-sized arena, and now it appears Winnipeg will be the home of the Kootenay Ice next season.”
That presumably would mean that True North Sports and Entertainment, the owner of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, would be involved at the ownership level.
Jim Toth of CJOB in Winnipeg, who once worked in Cranbrook, tweeted Monday morning: “Just got word from #TNSE regarding this article of speculative move of #WHL franchise to WPG. is ‘100% False again’ ”
Toth later tweeted: “Confirmed with Kootenay Ice same as #TNSE regarding Prince George article. Told same as in October, no truth to this story out of PG.”
When I contacted Jeff Chynoweth, the Ice’s owner, president and general manager for comment, all he said was: “Where do they come up with stuff like that?”
While the Cougars’ future in Prince George has been the centre of speculation and rumours for a few years now, that all seems likely to end in the next while. However, the same can’t be said for Lethbridge, where it seems the fun is just beginning.For example, there also was another unsourced and unattributed rumour floating around this morning. That one had the Hurricanes being sold to True North and relocating to Winnipeg, with the Ice then moving to Lethbridge.
Chynoweth’s response to that one: “Seriously? . . . You should laugh at that one.”
Later in the day, Paul Kingsmith, the sports director at Global-TV in Lethbridge, tweeted: “Wichers says team is not for sale, #WHL has not taken financial control and he expects the @WHLHurricanes to be here next season.”
Wichers is Brian Wichers, who is a member of the Hurricanes’ board of directors.

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