Porter's silence speaks volumes in return to TC
By Annie Fowler, Herald staff writer
Chilliwack Bruins owner Darryl Porter made his first appearance at Toyota Center on Friday night since he sold the Tri-City Americans to Olie Kolzig and Stu Barnes in April 2005.
Porter was seen near the Bruins team bench watching warmups and chatting with head coach Marc Habscheid on Friday. He watched both games from the tunnel that leads from the locker room to the Bruins team bench.
After five years, one would think there would be no hard feelings or underlying issues, but Porter denied two requests for an interview Saturday -- in front of a half dozen of his players outside the Bruins locker room.
When Porter and his ownership group of NHL heavyweights Brian Burke and Glen Sather sold the team in 2005, he had kind parting words.
"I would hope the people in the Tri-Cities are really excited," Porter said in April 2005. "I would be the happiest guy if this works out for them. I really commend Stu and Olie for stepping up. They were good ambassadors for us, and they will be good owners for the community."
So why no interview?
Maybe things haven't gone the way Porter envisioned when he was awarded a franchise in Chilliwack. In four years, the team has made the playoffs three times. This season the Bruins set records for wins, points and goals scored. But, the team's attendance has dropped 20 percent since last season.
Or it could go back to a March 2005 interview when Porter was pitching a change of venue to Chilliwack, British Columbia, to the WHL Board of Governors."
"We hope, with the Board of Governors approval, to move to a pure hockey atmosphere where we can turn a profit," Porter said at the time from his home in Delta, British Columbia. "That's why the decision was made.
"The crappy part of this is the people this hurts who don't deserve this. How can you not be torn when you have 2,500 fans that have been so loyal, a great staff and corporate sponsors? The problem is the people who don't care. We just can't seem to grow this."
Porter may not be able to admit he was wrong.
Since the sale, the Americans have moved forward under Kolzig, Barnes, Dennis Loman and general manager Bob Tory, who has brought in top-end coaching and quality players over the years.
The Americans won their third straight U.S. Division banner this season, their second Western Conference title in three years, and have seen their attendance grow every year.
The Americans have been in the Tri-Cities since 1988, when Ron Dixon moved the franchise to Kennewick from New Westminster, British Columbia.