Wednesday, 20 April 2011

WHL Welcomes Back Victoria

The Western Hockey League confirmed the the WHL's worst-kept secret today. Major junior hockey is returning to the B.C. capital and will begin play this September out of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in downtown Victoria. The league held a news conference in Victoria to officially make the announcement that the Chilliwack Bruins franchise has been relocated to the Victoria.

VICTORIA, BC – It’s been almost 20 years, but the wait is over for hockey fans on Vancouver Island. The WHL will return to the City of Victoria next season, the Western Hockey League and RG Properties Ltd. announced today.

The WHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the WHL franchise in Chilliwack and its relocation to Victoria effective starting with the 2011-12 season. Graham Lee, whose company RG Properties developed, built and operates the 7,000-seat Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, has purchased the franchise and will move the WHL franchise to the B.C. capital for the start of next season.

“We are very excited to bring WHL hockey back to Victoria,” said Lee. “From the day we first got involved with this building over a decade ago, our goal has been to look at all opportunities that will bring excitement and entertainment to the city as well as providing economic benefits. Bringing a WHL team to Victoria exemplifies that commitment.”

We are very pleased to be in a position to announce the WHL will be returning to the City of Victoria and Vancouver Island next season,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Although any relocation is a difficult process, we know the Victoria market will be a great addition to the WHL.”

“The WHL is a part of Canadian hockey culture. The league is all about community, and our focus with the team is all about being a strong partner in the community,” said Dave Dakers, President of RG Sports and Entertainment. “Vancouver Island’s top young players will now have the chance to play at the highest level right here at home in front of a hometown crowd.”

“It is exciting to have a WHL team back in the Capital City. It is an opportunity to be part of building the future of hockey,” said Mayor of Victoria, Dean Fortin. “Our new team will greatly add to the diverse and family-friendly entertainment that makes our city great.”

The WHL is the premier junior hockey development league in the country and had more players drafted in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft than any other League in the world, with 43 players selected in all and seven selected in the first round.

The B.C. capital was home to a WHL franchise for 23 seasons from 1971 to 1994. During that period, Victoria’s WHL teams produced over 50 NHL players including well-known stars such as Geoff and Russ Courtnall, Grant Fuhr, Mel Bridgeman and Greg Adams, just to name a few. The WHL Victoria Cougars franchise was relocated to Prince George in 1994.

“It's going to be great to see local kids in WHL uniforms on the Island! I think we'll see bigger crowds, there is more of a local appetite for this brand of hockey. That should also give a boost to local businesses to get behind the team,” said John Tinker, President and Owner of Big Stake Ventures and Victoria Keg Steakhouses.


  1. Nice rosy picture moving to the Island, but not a peep to the fans in Chilliwack. That showed no class at all. Yes, it is a big boys club. My question is, "Who is next?" Fans better support the Hurricanes or we will be the next team to exit their present surroundings!

  2. Chilliwack had enough fan support, so I actually don't think that really makes any difference.

  3. Watch Victoria pick the name Capitals and the league force the Hurricanes to give up their current Washington Capital style jerseys.....

  4. What the canes need is an owner. The board have no clue about hockey and how to run a team. These kids are treated like a junior A team. There is one athletic therapist/equipment manager, 95% of teams have 2. The way they are treated is an absolute joke. My son went to school with some of the players in high school and all they do is complain, the kids got 2 sticks for the summer. All other teams get 6-8. These kids were not given shampoo, these kids are hard pressed to get a new pair of skate laces. Its time for this team to get sold to Local Interest that will keep the team in Lethbridge, and pump some money into this team. A owner won't charge 20 dollars for tickets, if the owner(s) are smart they will charge about 15 dollars, and get bigger crowds, making more money in the long run.

  5. The worst thing they can get is local ownership. If the team is to ever be sold it must be to outside interests with no ties to Lethbridge. This city is oh such much a small minded community with over stimulated sensitivities. If this team is to be allowed to be given the benefit of doubt by the demands of the local fans, then it must be an owner/ownership from elsewhere. I can just imagine the hue and cry from half the fans if they were sold to a local group with this guy or that guy at the helm. If there is to be stability, then outside interests are needed. The league does have the final say in ownership of a franchise. Just look what happend in Chilliwack.


  6. I love this time of year for the canes fans. The time for the annual debate about private ownership. I would love for this to happen and have expressed this before. I have given up and now will let the rest of you fight it out. I just want to let you in on a little secret... it's never going to happen. Don't listen to me. It's blue in the face season for canes fans once again. Agrue away.