Monday, August 18, 2008

The Portland Winter Hawks Sold?

The Portland WinterHawks of the Western Hockey League looks like they have been sold for a reportedly 7.5 million. Gregg Drinnan who's the sports editor for the Kamloops Daily News broke the story on his blog "Taking Note."

Apparently billionaire Bill Gallacher is the buyer. In a story in the Portland Tribune, the current owner and the general manager are denying the report.

The Portland Winter Hawks may be sold to a “billionaire” this week, but team president Jack Donovan won’t admit it.

“Team is not sold as of now,” says Donovan, denying a report in the Kamloops Daily News. “That’s as far as I want to go.”

The story in Saturday’s edition of the Kamloops paper cites two sources familiar with the Western Hockey League and the Winter Hawks’ situation. The story says the team has been sold to a group headed by Calgary-based businessman Bill Gallacher, pending league approval.

“The money is changing hands Wednesday,” one source tells the Daily News.

“I don’t know of any money changing hands on Wednesday,” says Donovan, a co-owner along with principal owner Jim Goldsmith and John Bryant. “If there’s money in my pocket on Wednesday, we’ll have a party.

“I’ve never met the guy (Gallacher), don’t know if he’s a billionaire. I didn’t say I’ve never heard of him.”

Gallacher is a senior partner with the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League, and he’s in the oil business.

“Gallacher is legitimately a billionaire,” a source tells the Kamloops paper. “He’ll be the wealthiest guy in the league. He’s a very sharp guy.”

The paper says the team is selling for $7.5 million Canadian, which would be a record price for a WHL team.

Both sources used by the Kamloops paper say that the new ownership will be making changes on the hockey side of operations. The Daily News reports that Mike Johnston, a former NHL assistant coach, will be named general manager and head coach, with former NHL player Travis Green his assistant GM/coach. A man named Ken Stickney, chief executive of Mandalay Sports Entertainment, would be the team president.

“All I know is what you know,” Winter Hawks GM Ken Hodge says. “I’m not part of the inner circle. The way the story was written, it would affect me and a great deal of people.

“I’m trying to keep our hockey staff together and moving forward. We’re six days (and hours) away from our camp opening.”

OregonLive has thoughts on this story.

The Portland Winter Hawks had rumors come up this past season. I think it wasn't smart by the co-owner and the General Manager act like they were clueless. It doesn't make them look good.

In other WHL news, Taking Note is also reporting that the Swift Current Broncosand the Prince Albert Raiders will host the WHL leg of the 2008 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. The Saint John Sea Dogs and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles will host the event when Russia faces the QMJHL All-Stars. The six game event is a selection process for the World Junior Championships for Canada. Russia plays two games against the QMJHL, OHL, and the WHL All-Stars. Since the inception of this event, it has been one sided in favor of the CHL All Stars.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for He's the writer for the Asylum which covers the Lewiston Maineiacs of the QMJHL. He's also a regular contributor to the NHL Source also at He can be reached at


Anonymous said...

Is the new owner hoping to move the franchise?
Many Canadian businessmen do.

Nathan Fournier said...

From the Taking Note Report:

“There will be a new lease within 10 days,” the source said, adding that “they want to play all their games in the Rose Garden.”
The Winter Hawks are scheduled to play a handful of games in the Rose Garden this season, with the rest in Memorial Coliseum. After this season, it’s expected the Winter Hawks will move all of their games into the Rose Garden."

It sounds like they are staying as of right now