While both True North and Kootenay Ice owner Jeff Chynoweth have been quick to throw cold water on a report that the Western Hockey League team would move to Winnipeg, there appears to be some smoke in the same story’s assertion that the Prince George Cougars could change hands soon.
The Prince George Citizen, which initially reported the sale on Monday, ran a column by editor Neil Godbout sticking to Ted Clarke’s original story, at least regarding the Cougars, and insisting the sale is a “done deal” with the caveat that the move must still be approved by the WHL. Clarke reported that a local businessman would lead a group that included former Cougars Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis, who now play in the National Hockey League. Meanwhile, former Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan, as knowledgeable and connected as anyone covering the WHL, reported on his blog that he had been told a deal has not been finalized, but “serious talks are ongoing.”
Cougars vice-president Brandi Brodsky, whose family owns the team, was quoted on the 250 News website as saying, “We aren’t sold,” and in a follow up on Tuesday, 250 News reported that the WHL did not have a proposed sale before them.
Keep in mind the tense in those declarations. It was three years ago this week that the Chilliwack Progress ran a story quoting Chilliwack Bruins co-owner Darryl Porter and WHL commissioner Ron Robison as saying the club had not been sold to a new owner in Victoria. And we all know how that turned out (see: Royals, Victoria).
As for Winnipeg, it seems unthinkable a team would move to the provincial capital without the involvement of True North, which owns the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and the only WHL-suitable arena in the city. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press points out that True North has plenty on its plate right now running the Jets and overseeing the potential move of their American Hockey League affiliate from St. John’s, N.L., to Thunder Bay, Ont. The proposed AHL move is not expected to happen until 2016 or 2017 and, while it’s not out of the question that True North could attempt to expand its hockey empire, the question remains whether the organization would have any interest in doing so before then.
HONOUR ROLL: Wheat Kings past and present have been decorated with awards this week.
Wheat Kings forward Jayce Hawryluk, who had six goals, four assists and a plus/minus of +6 in three games last week, was named Canadian Hockey League player of the week on Tuesday, one day after winning the WHL honour.
Meanwhile, ex-Wheat King Jacob DeSerres was named the Canada West Universities Athletic Association goaltender of the year. DeSerres went 13-2-2 for the Calgary Dinos during the regular season, with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Dinos head coach Mark Howell, a former assistant with Brandon on Dean Clark’s staff, was named the Canada West coach of the year, leading the Dinos to a 21-4-3 record in the regular season and into this week’s conference final against the Alberta Golden Bears.
In the pro ranks, former Wheat King Brandon Anderson of the Reading Royals has been named the ECHL goalie of the week. The 21-year-old Washington Capitals prospect won both his starts last week, with a 0.50 GAA and a .985 pct. For the season, the second-year pro is 17-8-1 with a 2.33 GAA and a .911 pct.
BOZON HOSPITALIZED: Kootenay Ice forward Tim Bozon is in a hospital in Saskatoon being treated for meningitis, which can be life-threatening. Bozon’s parents have been on his Twitter account, thanking Bozon’s supporters in his fight.
AROUND THE WHL: Portland fell one-game short of a spot in the WHL record book with a 4-1 loss to Seattle on Friday. The Winterhawks won 21 games in a row, one short of the single-season mark of 22 straight victories, set by the Estevan Bruins in 1967. The loss was also the first regulation defeat for former Brandon G Corbin Boes, who is now 12-1-0-1 with his new team … Another notable streak came to an end on Friday when Kootenay C Sam Reinhart was held scoreless for the first time since Dec. 4. His 22-game point-scoring streak is the longest in the WHL this season, but could still be matched by Prince George LW Tyler Fiddler, who is on an 18-game streak with four games to play.