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Rockets president holds veto in junior team turf war

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 | 3:28 pm

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Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton doesn't believe rumours surrounding the possible relocation of the KIJHL's Chase Chiefs to Kelowna. (File photo Chris Stanford)

By Pieter Uni

Kelowna Rockets president Bruce Hamilton has poured cold water on rumours of a junior B hockey team taking up residence in this city.

An announcement is scheduled for Friday in Chase where Fred Pittendreigh, the owner of the Chiefs which play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, will make a major announcement about the club’s future. There he’s expected to address  reports circulating through Kamloops newspapers that the team is headed to Rutland.

Pittendreigh didn’t entirely rule out the possibility Kelowna could be a part of his team’s future when reached by phone today. But while he refused to comment further,  Hamilton said the chances of the Chiefs becoming the Central Okanagan’s third junior hockey team are slim.

“There will be no junior B team in Kelowna without my approval because we have the rights,” Hamilton said. “In my mind — and they can do all the talking they want — they are not coming to Kelowna until I say they are coming to Kelowna, and that’s part of the deal.”

The deal the Rockets general manager is referring to is one he struck with the City of Kelowna that gives him veto rights on any professional and junior hockey teams that want to make Kelowna their homebase,  a city representative confirmed.

“(Pittendreigh) has already been told once or twice by me that he is not moving it here,” Hamilton said. “This guy has lots to say but has not talked to me of late. A group has talked to me, but I have not given them permission, I haven’t given the city permission, and the city has to get permission from me before it happens.”

Hamilton added that he hasn’t made contact with the Chiefs’ owner in over a year.

“The only way I would ever consider that team moving here, (is) it would have to be 100 per cent local ownership,” said Hamilton.

“I have made it very clear, and this guy can say he owns a home here, and I don’t know the man, but the only way I would consider this remotely (is) if it were 100 per cent (owned by) people who are residents of Kelowna.

Even if a local ownership group presented itself and the Rockets gave the relocation a go-ahead, the teams wouldn’t be sharing home ice.

“They would never be playing (in Prospera Place), never ever,” said Hamilton. “The team would play out of Rutland if it was going to play out of anywhere because first and foremost, I am going to protect the major midget team that plays out of the Capital News Centre.”

Hamilton said the major midget team is a priority because it is a development club for the Western Hockey League.

“That midget league is designed to develop 15 and 16 year olds for the WHL; junior B doesn’t develop players the same level that age that we want….  It is a great league, but it is not the league I am endorsing right now,” he said.

Hamilton isn’t the only one putting his foot down about the Chiefs’ possible move to the Okanagan.

“I haven’t heard anything but I highly doubt that they would come over here,” said Mark Cheyne, owner of the Westside Warriors, adding that a team moving to West Kelowna would devastate the financial situation of the Warriors.

“I would say that it would put us in a bad situation,” continued Cheyne. “There isn’t enough to share, it just wouldn’t work.”


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3 Responses to “Rockets president holds veto in junior team turf war”

  1. M. Bauer says:
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    That guy is such a jerk! I’m surprised his head is big enough to even fit inside the arena. Maybe he should consider what the customer actually wants before shooting of his mouth. Like more reasonably priced tickets and a leadership team that cares about the community (instead of their own pocket books)!

  2. Mike Vasko says:
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    Maybe Mr Hamliton should remember the fact that both ,Prospera and the CNC where built with tax payer money not his he is just a renter! Get your ego in check. However he is right in wanting to protect a great organization that he has built!

  3. Scott says:
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    Come on Bruce Hamilton. Figure it out! Looks like the relocation is going forward. What will you do??

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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