One Team Sells In The WHL, And It’s Not The Portland Winterhawks

In speaking with one of the prospective owners of the Portland Winterhawks, while discussions have occured, no one has come to any finalized sale. This means that the team is still officially on the sale block.

What was originally announced as to be dealt with in short order, has been dragged out for at least a couple months and appears to be a long haul. 

With dates of early December being a start for the regular season, Canada has announced the closure of the border through October 21. This affects international travel between the two countries of the US and Canada and with the QMJHL announcing it’s very shortened schedule of 30 games per team, both the WHL and OHL have said games can’t be played without fans. This is very contradictory amongst the leagues as the WHL wants 68 games, OHL wants 64 and QMJHL is now at 30. 

Four teams in the WHL are Community Owned meaning that the community owns the team. Losses are extremely painful and made even worse if on the shoulders of small market teams who are struggling with just keeping teams on the ice. Coupled with Prince George where the City has announced the closure of the CN Centre and surrounding city-owned buildings would be closed until the end of the year. How will this affect the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL, which use the Civic Arena downtown and have the BCHL announcing a restart date of December 1? 

The latest numbers in BC are seeing a bit of a spike in numbers which certainly can’t help if they wish to restart the games. 

The Brandon Wheat Kings posted their press release on the sale of their team. The announcement, which has been approved by the Board of Governors, is the first time the team has changed hands since 1988. There are a few employees of the Wheat Kings who have been with the club even longer. Kelly has been the General Manager for the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the sale of the Wheat Kings was done so as to give him more time to devote to one project. His brother Brad was one of 44 people killed in a plane crash, which virtually wiped out the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Hockey Club of the KHL in Russia in 2011.

Longtime Owner and Governor Kelly McCrimmon has announced that the Western Hockey League club has been sold to the J&G Group of Companies. 

The transfer of ownership for the Brandon Wheat Kings was unanimously approved by the WHL Board of Governors last week and the franchise will officially change hands on September 15th.

McCrimmon, who has been the sole owner of the franchise for the past two decades, says the decision to sell was a difficult one.

“This was an extremely difficult decision for our family,” says McCrimmon, who joined the club in 1988 as the assistant general manager. “The Wheat Kings have been our life, from playing here for two years and then operating the team for 31 years, 28 of those as an owner. There have been so many incredible moments, the victories, the people, the staff and of course the many players over the years that have worn our uniform. I started as GM when I was 28 years old. Brandon became our home, we love the city and we love Manitoba.”

“Kelly McCrimmon has been synonymous with the Brandon Wheat Kings for as long as most WHL fans can remember”, Ron Robison, WHL Commissioner, said in a news release issued Tuesday. “During his long tenure as General Manager and Owner, Kelly not only built the Wheat Kings into a model franchise but also played an integral role in developing the WHL into the world class league it is today. His extensive knowledge of the game and strong business acumen have been a major asset to our member Clubs and the League as a whole for many years and we wish Kelly and his family all the best in the future.”

While he admits this decision was an emotional one, McCrimmon is happy to be turning the club over to a strong, local leader in Jared Jacobson of the J&G Group of Companies.

“We believe this is the right decision. The game has been so good to my family, I am fortunate now to be part of a great organization in Las Vegas with the Knights, and it became apparent a succession plan was needed. I feel good for people in Brandon and western Manitoba that the Wheat Kings will be in great hands with Jared and will always be a big part of the City of Brandon.”

Commissioner Robison gave high praise to the newest owner in the WHL, “The WHL and our member Clubs are very excited to welcome Jared Jacobson as the new owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings.” Robison went on to say, “We are fortunate to have a prominent member of the Brandon business community take over the operations of the Wheat Kings as local ownership will provide the continuity and stability that this franchise will require in the future. I know Jared is very excited to have the opportunity and we look forward to working with him during the ownership transition.”

The J&G Group is led by President and CEO Jared Jacobson who was born and raised in Brandon. Jared has been actively involved in the Jacobson & Greiner third generation family business from an early age.

Through Jared’s leadership, determination and vision, the organization has seen spectacular growth, expanding to 32 companies, encompassing all areas of construction.

J&G has been a valuable partner and supporter of the Wheat Kings and the WHL for many years and Jacobson looks forward to what the future holds for the hockey club.

“This is a very exciting day for myself, my family and business partners,” says Jacobson. “Our ownership group is looking forward to adding new energy and new ideas to one of the most storied franchises in the Canadian Hockey League. We are committed to providing the fans with not only a great on ice product, but the best fan experience possible.”

“I would like to thank Kelly for this opportunity, the Wheat Kings mean everything to Brandon, Manitobans, and fans across Western Canada. We look forward to building on the past successes of the organization.”

Jacobson will officially assume the role of Owner and Governor of the Hockey Club next week. McCrimmon will be staying on with the team as Alternate Governor.

In the coming weeks as time gets closer to the proposed restart date of both the WHL and OHL, we will see if the QMJHL with it’s proposed October start date and shortened schedule will take place.

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About Stuart Kemp 295 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club since 2008 and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.