Rumours have surfaced within the last 10 days or so of the SJHL possibly expanding to Cold Lake, Alta., after it was reported that a group based out of that community had contacted the league about getting a team.
Today the SJHL released a statement nixing any possibility of placing a team in Cold Lake:
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League says it's content with the current twelve team set up and will not be moving into Alberta in the near future.
News reports, in recent days, have come out of Cold Lake concerning a possible expansion into that community. SJHL President Bill Chow acknowledges a group has, indeed, shown interest in the league. “We have decided not to prolong the process or a decision about a franchise in Cold Lake.”
The Alberta Junior Hockey League, which runs pretty much a mirror league to the SJHL, currently has a franchise 51-kilometres outside of Cold Lake (Bonnyville) and the two leagues have an extremely good working partnership. “It would be difficult to grant a franchise to the group with the existing Bonnyville franchise so close,” says Chow.
Chow says there are other logistics involved of having a team in Alberta playing in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and there is considerable required involvement of numerous levels of hockey to establish a new franchise based out of the boundaries of Saskatchewan.
Chow also says he's grateful of the Cold Lake group showing interest in the SJHL as a viable means of entertainment for the community; however expansion outside of Saskatchewan isn't on the horizon.
For more on this situation, La Ronge play-by-play man Daniel Fink has unearthed some excellent information in several posts on his blog. Phil Heilman also has some info from the mayor of Cold Lake on his blog. And Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play man Robb Hunter has been giving updates on the situation since last week on his twitter account.
It was an interesting scenario, but all kinds of red tape and all kinds of ducks to be lined up would be in the way of an SJHL team in Cold Lake. It would seem much easier for the group to chase an existing AJHL team such as the St. Albert Steel, but there could be other centres after that club if it moves, including Whitecourt.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of Bruins-related items in this week's Mercury. You can read about former player and coach Rod Fagerheim, who passed away last week, here. And there is a feature on former Bruins and Wings goalie Riley Hengen here.
And you may also want to check out my column this week. It seems to have a lot of people around town talking today. You can read that right here.