By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Are the Prince George Cougars about to be sold?
The Prince George Citizen, citing unnamed sources, reported Monday that the Cougars have been sold to group headed by local businessman Greg Pocock and including current NHL players and former Cougars Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis.
The Citizen reported a tentative deal was reached for a price of nearly $7 million Canadian. Current owner Rick Brodsky had been seeking $8 million. The sale still needs to be approved by the WHL head office and the league’s board of directors.
Prince George has long been the source of relocation rumors. The Cougars are in an isolated location in northern British Columbia, haven’t had a winning season since 2006-07, and are averaging a league-worst attendance of 1,688 per game. Prince George is regularly considered a prime candidate for a move any time a city begins making noise about bringing in a WHL franchise.
The local ownership group would keep the Cougars in Prince George, at least temporarily. The Citizen reported the new group would commit to remaining in town for two more seasons. If the team continues to lose money — the story says the Cougars are on pace to lose $650,00 this season — then the team would likely be relocated.
Brodsky has owned the franchise since 1992, when it was based in Victoria. Brodsky moved the team to Prince George in 1994.
Brodsky’s brother, Jack, sold the Saskatoon Blades in September after the family owned the franchise since 1976.
Prince George isn’t the only team with speculation brewing about its ownership. Earlier in the week rumors surfaced about the community-owned Lethbridge Hurricanes being sold to a private investor. Then in the Citizen story there was a line suggesting the Kootenay Ice will be moving to Winnipeg next season.
Around the WHL
Seven of the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference have been determined as Everett and Vancouver both clinched last week. Tri-City and Prince George are racing for the final spot. Meanwhile, two more teams clinched postseason berths in the Eastern Conference as Medicine Hat and Regina punched their tickets. … The Portland Tribune reported that the Portland Winterhawks have chatted with MLS’s Portland Timbers about the possibility of staging an outdoor game. … Kootenay’s Sam Reinhard had his league-best point streak ended at 22 games as he was held scoreless in the Ice’s 4-2 loss to Prince Albert on Saturday. … Calgary overage center Brady Brassart signed a three-year entry-level contact with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. … Brandon’s Jayce Hawryluk was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 17-year-old forward had six goals and four assists as the Wheat Kings went 2-0-0-1.
Points — Mitch Holmberg (Spokane) 107; goals — Holmberg 57; assists — Nicolas Petan (Portland) 72; penalty minutes — Ryan Rehill (Kamloops) 175; wins — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 39; goals against average — Jarry 2.23; save percentage — Coleman Vollrath (Victoria) .930.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.