Island Insider Commentary: Without clarification, rumours could sour WHL arrival

At some point, outed organization needs to say something about WHL coming to Victoria

Trying to sum up the current Victoria Salmon Kings situation is like standing in line to get a sandwich from Italian Food Imports cafe at noon.

It’s going to take a little longer than you might like, but it’s worth it.

Last night, the Salmon Kings hosted the Bakersfield Condors in what might be the Kings’ last-ever home game. (Results online at www.vicnews.com.)

Trouble is, allegations from minority owner Moray Keith of the Chilliwack Bruins are making it hard to be a Salmon Kings fan right now.

Last week, Keith begat the storm cloud which has since taken permanent residence over Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Disgruntled, or so we’re led to believe, Keith played spoiler last week in confirming to Jim Mullin of CKNW that the Western Hockey League Bruins are being sold to RG Properties and will relocate to Victoria next season.

RG sports and entertainment (who operate SOFMC and own the Salmon Kings), refuse to make a comment either way, which could be construed as a fishy ploy. Surely, if it was untrue, RG would have no reason to stay mum. Then again, in RG’s defence, Keith suddenly went hush on Thursday citing a confidentiality agreement. So if there’s actually a deal in the works then RG are likely bound by a similar agreement.

But really, it doesn’t matter. Something should have been said by now.

The leak by Keith is enough to disappoint at least one Salmon Kings season ticket holder, Massimo Segato, among others.

“I think the timing could have been a lot better, there’s no benefit,” Segato said.

Massimo and brother Maurizio own and operate Italian Food Imports, a few blocks south of SOFMC on Blanshard Street. The brothers have held seasons passes to the Kings since the team’s debut at Bear Mountain Arena in 2004 and sit in section 108 at SOFMC.

Theirs is one of the few establishments to wave a Salmon Kings banner and might be the best place to pick up a Salmon Kings conversation in town, outside of the SOFMC itself.

However, these days, street chatter regarding the Salmon Kings is one of confusion and general disillusionment. And that’s not something you want to seed in one of the town’s busiest and most respected lunch hubs.

“I think (Moray Keith) knows it’s playoff time over here. Out of consideration to the club and the players, I think he should have held off,” Massimo said.

In terms of preference between the WHL and ECHL, Massimo is divided.

“The ECHL is good hockey and it’s got rivalries, though it would be nice (if the WHL comes) to see a greater variety of teams instead of the same six.”

So it might not have been RG and the WHL’s strategy to stay mum, but it hasn’t helped. Unfortunately, even the slightest nod was out of the question, as RG has remained tight-lipped, shrugging off all questions as rumours and speculation.

If untrue, RG’s refusal to speak is commendable. If the allegations prove true, however, and the WHL returns to Victoria for next season, RG’s handling of the Salmon Kings’ final days have to be considered mediocre at best.

So we wait, hopefully while chewing on a spicy capicola with tomatoes and a pickled vegetable (courtesy of you know where). And if the Kings can bring the playoffs back for round two next week, you know Massimo will be there.