WHL commish called on quotes

Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison was forced to defend himself Wednesday night as his own statements from early March were thrown back at him.

In a Progress article published Mar. 4, Robison offered several quotes that seemed comforting to the Chilliwack hockey fan.

Asked whether the Bruins had been sold or a letter of intent signed, he said no.

Semantics perhaps, but clearly the wheels were well into motion.

Asked whether the Bruins would be playing in Chilliwack in 2011-12, he offered this.

“It is certainly our intent and we haven’t considered anything different at this point.”

Asked about the league’s strong desire to get into Victoria, he offered this.

“We are very interested in that possibility, and it’s just been a case of whether we can accommodate that. At this point, we’re not in a position to do that.”

And yet here we are today. Victoria suddenly has a team while Chilliwack does not.

And the prospects of one showing up for the 2011-12 season ranks somewhere between slim and none.

“Our objective always is to leave franchises where they are, and there are a lot of conditions that had to be met prior to the sale being approved,” Robison said when asked about those quotes. “So we were very much in the early stages of discussions then and we could not comment on what was taking place.”

In the WHL’s news release on Wednesday, the league cited a strategic plan and a desire to get into Victoria with relocation and not expansion.

For a league that wants franchises to stay put, it sure read like the WHL was waiting like a vulture for a team to falter.

If the Kootenay Ice or Prince Albert Raiders had come onto the market, it may just as easily have been them, although Robison painted the picture of a Bruins franchise in serious distress.

“The changed market, the deteriorating relationship within the ownership group and the inability to reach a lease agreement, those were the tests we went through before agreeing that it was in the best interests to relocate that franchise,” Robison said. “The Regina Pats are an example of a franchise we would not consider relocating. We understand the landscape in most of our markets, and Chilliwack presented a different situation.”

Moray Keith had publicly offered to buy the team and keep it in Chilliwack and claims neither he nor business partner Jim Bond ever agreed to sell.

Just like Brian Burke and Darryl Porter, Robison wound things back to a Jan. 13 conference call where all five Bruin owners (Burke, Sather, Porter, Bond and Keith) allegedly green-lighted the sale along with exclusive negotiations with Victoria.

Robison admitted that once the owners agreed to sell, local offers were not going to be considered, but insisted the league didn’t wade into things until the Bruins owners made their decision.

“We awaited that decision before the league acted,” Robison said. “Once that happened, everyone understood that confidentiality agreements applied  and we were not in a position to comment.”

Robison’s biggest problem now may be polishing up the league’s tarnished image.

Other markets have taken note of Chilliwack’s treatment, and when Nanaimo or another hot market comes calling for a team in the next few years, it will be remembered.

“We have franchises that need improvements to remain viable moving forward,” Robison said in non-comforting fashion. “It’s unfortunate circumstances that have led to this, and this shouldn’t reflect on the market and the fans, and we believe Chilliwack is still a viable WHL market and we would have interest in going back in the future.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From the Chilliwack Progress Archives: Plecas pitches an idea to fix Canadian prisons

Bringing you highlights from 128 years of Chilliwack Progress news coverage.

MP is urging people to weigh in on MAiD consultation

Online consultation will be taking feedback on assisted dying until Monday, January 27

Court Tuesday for Chilliwack MLA’s former constituency assistant charged with fraud

Fourth court appearance since October for Desmond Devnich who also faces breach of trust charges

Westbound Highway 1 roll-over crash slowing commuters in Abbotsford

Accident occurred just west of Mt. Lehman Road, left lane blocked

Fraser Valley snow storms finally fade

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Deer carcass strung up at Surrey fire hall prompts investigation

Investigation underway following complaint a Surrey firefighter hung a deer carcass in a fire hall

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Most Read