Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Former manager jailed for theft
from Kamloops Blazers

The story of the former business manager who stole almost $1-million from the Kamloops Blazers is one that those in the small city have followed intently the past three years. Yesterday, it finally came to a close:
The former business manager of the Kamloops Blazers is going to prison for stealing from the Western Hockey League club. Maxine Patrick wept in B.C. Supreme Court as Madam Justice Daphne Smith sentenced her to 3½ years.

Ms. Patrick, 48, pleaded guilty to fraud this month after admitting to taking nearly $1-million from the junior hockey club over 10 years, ending in 2003. The Crown had asked for a sentence of three to five years while the defence sought a conditional sentence, but the judge said the large-scale fraud hurt not only the hockey club but the whole community.
The Blazers have been one of the few community-owned junior hockey teams for their entire existence, and when the story of these long-running thefts by an admitted drug addict hit the media, many were appalled.

The thefts began at a time when the franchise was at its peak, as the Blazers won three Memorial Cups in four years from 1992-95 and established themselves as one of junior hockey's all-time dynasties.

The fallout was immense.

Colin Day, the team's president since 1982, resigned in the fall of 2003 as the scandal came to light. The team also had to lay off staff and obtain a line of credit to continue normal operations, and the Blazers were unable to donate as much to charitable causes as it had in the past.
"This has been a very, very troubling affair," said Blazers vice-president Gary Cooper. "We just could not get out from under this dark cloud. It had permeated every nook and cranny of our organization."
It's true. The team, long a source of pride for the community, began to be looked at with suspicion from the community.

With this out of the way, let's hope the franchise is back on the rise.

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