Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ex-Blazers make pitch for team

The Kamloops Blazers Sports Society’s board of directors has, for the first time, heard from the two groups that are wanting to purchase its WHL franchise.

Mike Priestner, the owner of the Edmonton-based Mike Priestner Automotive Group (MPAG), was up first Monday morning, meeting the board at 9:30. He was accompanied by his son, Jared, who works with MPAG, and Kamloops lawyer Dev Dley, a former WHL commissioner.

Tom Gaglardi, the Vancouver businessman who heads up River City Hockey Inc. (RCH), followed, accompanied by partners Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor, both ex-Blazers players. Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla, the two other ex-Blazers who are partners in RCH, weren’t able to attend.
The ex-Blazers group apparently offered just more than $6-million for the team, while the other bid for 51-per-cent ownership was for close to $3.6-million. Recchi and Sydor have been trying to buy in with the team for some time, but haven't even been able to get an audience with the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society until now.

The Blazers are owned by a large group of shareholders, and the team has long operated on a not-for-profit model that is unique in junior hockey. The situation's really not altogether different from the overtures being made to buy the community-owned Oilers by billionaire Daryl Katz, albeit on a far smaller scale.

That said, I'm not close enough to the situation back home to know if the KBSS operating the team is a good fit for the team or not. Junior hockey has been moving increasingly towards a profit-generating, professionally run model for years, something that was ushered with the big-market Vancouver Giants winning the Memorial Cup this season.

What I do know is that the Blazers front office has been marred by scandal, the team has underperformed on the ice for a decade and attendance, unbelievably, has sagged. Maybe it is time for a new way of doing things, and I honestly believe Recchi and friends would put in whatever they could to make the team successful once again.
  • On a related note, Gregg Drinnan, the sports editor at the Kamloops daily, has a new blog that follows all things hockey out west.



At 3:59 p.m., August 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the tension within the WHL is going to steadily increase when you have cities like Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Calgary and Edmonton competing against centres like Swift Current and Moose Jaw. Because of the history of franchise movement in the dub, I don't blame Kamloops with going with a citizen owned group that esentially guarantees the Blazers stay in the 'loops but if they want to compete with the larger org's I think they have to go with the 'benovelent dictators' and ex-players.

At 4:45 p.m., August 14, 2007, Anonymous Phillie said...

James, old chum, this is where you should be investing. Could there be a sounder investment in Canada than a junior hockey franchise out west? Trust me. Get a group of bloggers/friends together and buy them out.

At 4:59 p.m., August 14, 2007, Anonymous Matt said...

I believe the Lethbridge Hurricanes "ownership model" is the same, c/w (unsurprisingly) scandal, turnover, and underperformance.

At 5:55 p.m., August 14, 2007, Anonymous Cousin BJ said...

Both of the offers presented to the Blazers have statements that guarantee that the team will stay in Kamloops. Whether or not that would really be legally enforcable down the road is anyone's guess.

The offer from the players would mean the dissolution of the Kamloops Blazers' Sports Society, which pumps mega bucks into the community. The fine details of each proposal are relatively unclear to the public thus far, so I'm not sure if the River City Hockey bid would include some type of community involvment - likely not.

The current board of directors basically seems to be a boy's club who love to sit around and pat each other on the back. They dont get paid, but the ego is certainly stroked.

In my opinion, if they actually do decide to sell the franchise, the City would be better off giving it to the ex-players.


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