WHL tries to explain Bruins move

The announcement has been made and it is now official.

The Chilliwack Bruins are no more.

The Western Hockey League and Victoria’s RG Properties held a joint news conference in Victoria this morning, all smiles as they talked about the return of major junior hockey to B.C.’s capital city.

An hour later, the league sent out a not-too-comforting press-release explaining their decision to rip a team out of a viable market that they were excited to get into just five years ago.

“In February of 2009, as part of its strategic plan, the Western Hockey League board of governors made a decision to actively pursue securing a franchise for the Victoria market,” the release read. “At that time, the WHL board of governors were advised that should a franchise become available for sale, the WHL may elect to relocate the club to Victoria. Although expanding the league beyond 22 teams was not ruled out, the preference was to relocate an existing team.”

The league claims expansion was kept off the table, with a desire to avoid diluting the talent level and keep the WHL competitive with the Ontario (OHL) and Quebec (QMJHL) leagues.

The press release then set about pointing the finger of blame at the American Hockey League and Bruins co-owners Moray Keith and Jim Bond.

“Since 2006, the year the Chilliwack Bruins began operations, the geographical market has changed dramatically,” it said. “With new arenas in Abbotsford and Langley and the arrival of the American Hockey League in Abbotsford, it became obvious to the Bruins ownership group that the franchise needed to be restructured from a medium size model to a small market size model.”

Keith and Bond own and run Prospera Centre under the Chiefs Development Group banner, and the claim is that they refused to renegotiate a lease that would mirror those held by other small-market privately owned WHL teams.

“On Jan. 13 of this year, the Chilliwack Bruins Limited Partnership (consisting of co-owners Brian Burke, Glen Sather, Darryl Porter, Keith and Bond) held a meeting of their ownership group and agreed with the WHL to sell its franchise for the purpose of relocating the club to Victoria,” the release continued. “Provided the terms of the sale met the conditions by the Chilliwack Bruins Limited Partnership, the partners agreed no other offers would be considered. The sale would be subject to board of governors approval and all parties associated with the transaction were bound by a confidentiality agreement.”

That statement flies in the face of public statements by Keith that he and Bond had tendered an offer to buy the Bruins and keep them in Chilliwack.

“We cannot stress enough that we feel terrible for all our loyal fans, our business staff, sponsors, volunteers and billet families,” said Bruins president Darryl Porter. “The loyalty showed to us by all of these groups was tremendous. We do believe that Chilliwack is a strong WHL small market location but only with the proper lease agreement in place. Over a two year period we repeatedly requested this support from both the Chiefs Development Group and the City of Chilliwack. Our pleas were rejected.”

With many local fans still clinging to the hope that another franchise will relocate to Chilliwack, WHL commissioner Ron Robison added one final thought.

“We believe that under the right conditions Chilliwack can be a viable WHL market,” he said. “We intend to give full consideration to returning should relocation occur in the future.”

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

Sarah Sache and her 11-year-old son Winston at their home, West River Farm, in Chilliwack on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Fraser Valley agriculture community offers big support for autism

Chilliwack dairy farmers, the Sache family, sing praises of Steve Saccomano’s charitable work

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Most Read