The Kelowna Chiefs junior B hockey team is not moving.
Despite reports Friday morning indicating a group of investors in Cranbrook had an agreement in principle to buy the team and move it to the Kootenay city and rename it the Colts, the Kelowna owners of the team say it was not, and is not, for sale.
The owners say there were talks with the group from Cranbrook, but only after the group approached them.
“The Kelowna Chiefs have not been for sale but with our family priorities changing, it made sense to keep discussions going about the possible relocation of the team,” said part owner Jason Tansem.
The other owner, Grant Sheridan is currently in a coma after contracting bacterial meningitis earlier this year as his team competed in the KIJHL conference championship. The Chiefs lost that series in in six games to eventual Cyclone Taylor Cup champions Revelstoke.
The Chiefs issued a news release Friday afternoon saying reports of a sale—which originated with a blog post by junior hockey writer Greg Drinnan—were incorrect.
The statement from the team reads:
“The Kelowna Chiefs Jr. Hockey Club is not moving as previously reported inaccurately by AM 1150 Kelowna and KelownaNow.
Following an announcement in January of the Western Hockey Leagues (WHL) Kootenay Ice moving from Cranbrook to Winnipeg, a local group from Cranbrook applied to the Kootenay International Hockey League (KIJHL) for a team. That expansion request was rejected. After the KIJHL Semi-Annual AGM at the end of April, talks moved forward between the Chiefs and that same group.
“As you can probably imagine it takes a ton of time and effort to run the team in a professional manner like we do. The Kelowna Chiefs have not been for sale but with our family priorities changing, it made sense to keep discussions going about the possible relocation of the team,” says Jason Tansem.
The buying group had a sub-lease agreement in place with the Kootenay Ice. For some reason, the City of Cranbrook denied the agreement which in essence stopped them from applying to the KIJHL for a relocation.
“We want to clarify that this has been an opportunity that came to us. We have never been actively looking to sell and we haven’t been looking to get out of it. The Chiefs have been our extended family. Our dedicated fans, sponsors, staff, volunteers and billets put their hearts into the team and make it one of the premier organizations within the league. We look forward to continuing where we left off last season.”
The team moved from Chase, BC to Kelowna in 2010 and has been playing out of Rutland Arena. This past season the Chiefs posted their best numbers with a 43-3-1-2 record which was good enough for the regular season title. The team lost out to the Revelstoke Grizzlies in the Conference finals.”
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