By Tyler Olsen, Chilliwack Times May 4, 2011
The return of the Chilliwack Chiefs seems to be drawing closer as the BCHL board of governors has planned a vote on whether to allow the beleaguered Quesnel Millionaires to move this year.
Talks between the Chiefs Development Group, which operates the Prospera Centre, and the owners of the Millionaires are continuing, according to CDG consultant Glen Ringdal.
“We are exploring an option with the Millionaires,” said CDG consultant Glen Ringdal. But he added that “there’s been no offer submitted. There’s no deal in place, but we are definitely talking to them.”
Ringdal said: “We continue to explore every opportunity that we have. The rope is getting tighter around our necks and we’ve got to get something done.”
The BCHL board of governors held a conference call Tuesday evening at which the Millionaires’ relocation to Chilliwack was discussed.
Vernon Vipers owner Duncan Wray—who chairs the franchise committee—told the Times “I don’t think [the relocation] is anywhere close to being done. At this point in the game, we as a board of governors is looking at the potential for doing so. But nothing is set in stone.”
But Wray confirmed that governors discussed the relocation fee required to move the club. And he said his committee has put forward a motion “to explore the opportunity of moving for this coming season” despite it being well past the normal December deadline. No vote has yet been taken.
In a press release, CDG part-owner Moray Keith said it would take up to two weeks to complete a deal and meet the requirements of the league.
He added: “the BCHL is very appreciated in Chilliwack and we definitely want hockey here this year. So we are talking with the people from Quesnel to see if we can create a good fit.”
The Quesnel ownership group has publicly stated that it is unlikely that the team will remain in the city next year, and sources close to the Millionaires confirmed to the Times that the British Columbia Hockey League team is now as good as gone.
Asked about plans to move the Millionaires to Chilliwack, Wray told the Times “As far as my understanding is concerned, that’s the only offer on the table.”
If the Millionaires do come to Chilliwack, they would be named the Chiefs, with the Langley franchise that took that name west having officially rebranded as the Rivermen this week.
“I do get quite excited about the natural rivalry that would exist between a BCHL team in Chilliwack and our former team in Langley,” said Keith.
Whether or not Harvey Smyl would return to coach the new Chiefs, as has been speculated, is unclear. The Times was not able to contact Smyl before press time.