Wednesday, February 27, 2013
ROYALS OWNER SHOOTS DOWN AHL RUMOURS
VICTORIA: After an era of local hockey franchise volatility, Victoria is out of the league-hopping business.
No matter the unsubstantiated reports of the Calgary Flames moving their American Hockey League franchise from Abbotsford to Utica, New York, with the rumour mongers having the Vancouver Canucks maybe moving their AHL farm team to B.C. — it no longer has a Victoria angle.
"We're good in the WHL, actually pretty darn happy," said Dave Dakers, president of sports and entertainment for RG Properties, which owns the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League and operates Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
The RG-owned Victoria Salmon Kings played at the Memorial Centre in the pro ECHL for seven seasons, the last four as the Vancouver Canucks' secondary farm team to the now defunct Manitoba Moose of the AHL. And the rumours were annually rife about Victoria staying with the pro game and eventually jumping from the ECHL to the AHL as the Canucks' main farm team.
A hardcore group of local fans is still adamant about preferring minor-pro hockey.
But the Graham Lee-owned RG Properties went major junior in the WHL, which Victoria had been out of since 1993-94 when the Cougars departed for Prince George.
RG replaced the Salmon Kings by purchasing the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL and relocating that franchise to Victoria in 2011-12 as the Royals.
And so finally ends the Victoria hockey merry-go-round, vows RG, no matter what the AHL does or doesn't do in B.C. in the future.
"The WHL works [for the Victoria market]," said Dakers, who is also president of the Royals.