Governors grapple with move
Kelowna area ready to welcome Lower Mainland team
Steve Ewen, The Province
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Will Westside be left on the outside?
That's the focus this week in the BCHL, as the proposed move to the bedroom community of Kelowna by the Langley Hornets tops the agenda of the much-anticipated governors meeting Wednesday in Salmon Arm.
The Hornets need 12 of the league's 17 teams to be in favour to get the switch.
No one, though, seems to have a handle on just how it might go.
"It's a simple 'yes' or 'no' vote, but it has a serious impact on how this league will operate next September and the next few Septembers," said Nanaimo Clippers general manager/coach Bill Bestwick. "I wish I could tell you what was going to happen."
Surrey Eagles coach Rick Hillier added: "It's going to be an interesting meeting."
The best guess on how things might play out is that the majority of the league's eight Interior Division teams will join up with the Hornets and try to sway the five Island Division teams into voting in favour, while the three remaining Mainland Division squads will try to garner votes against.
How it is all worded and presented could be key. The Merritt Centennials, for instance, are said to not like the Westbank idea if it means they get bumped into the Mainland Division.
The wildcard in all of this is, of course, the pending move of the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Chiefs are looking for a new home, because they're giving up Chilliwack to the WHL expansion Bruins next year, and they've been given an extension until next month on proposing their switch.
They could, in fact, go into Langley if the Hornets are granted a spot in Westside.
"Things change, things evolve," said Salmon SilverBacks general manager/coach Garry Davidson, who's in favour of Westside. "I'm sure the league would like to see a big Mainland Division, but, the reality is, we may not be able to do that right now."
Hornets owner Gary Gelinas is from Kelowna and he's been spearheading the move. The Hornets brass have said they can't make it work in Langley, where they are drawing only 720 people per game, the fourth-lowest total in the league and nearly 600 below the BCHL average
Gelinas couldn't reached for comment Monday, but he has been quoted as saying that over 800 paid deposits for season tickets have been made in Westside.
The most surprising thing in all of this, meanwhile, may be the Hornets keep on winning despite the distractions.
With standout netminder Ryan Riddle leading the way, the Hornets are second in the Mainland Division, one point in back of the Chiefs with one game in hand.
"We just think we have a really neat group," said Hornets coach Mike Coflin.
"We think we have something special going on here. We're not going to let anything get in the way of that."
© The Vancouver Province 2006