Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Saints could be marching to Virden

Team, league won't confirm or deny move

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AFTER losing to the Portage Terriers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship series on Tuesday night, the Winnipeg Saints faced another tough day Wednesday as speculation intensified that the team is moving to Virden.

While officials with the team and the league would not confirm the move, no one was denying it either.

Members of the Saints ownership group, executive and coaching staff were in meetings throughout the day Wednesday.

Saints governor Gord Lee, who returned a telephone call from the Free Press on Wednesday evening, politely declined comment. He would only say any reports in the media to this point were unofficial and unsanctioned by the Saints organization.

Should the Saints relocate, the Winnipeg Blues would be the league's only remaining club in the provincial capital.

MJHL commissioner Kim Davis said an MJHL team that is to be sold and/or moved would need to submit an application to the league by March 31. He would not say whether the league had received such an application from the Saints organization.

The application would need to be reviewed by the league's board of of governors. The board, which includes representatives from all 11 teams, would have to approve a sale and/or relocation. This has not been done.

While the next scheduled meeting is June 1, Davis said he could schedule an earlier meeting if needed.

"The process is the board entertains the application and really it's just a matter of determining the merits of the application in terms of any hypothetical new venue, location," said Davis. "The issue is really the makeup of the hypothetical new location. It's the details of what a proposed new location or site will be."

Virden as a host community for a junior A franchise carries impressive credentials.

The 2011 census showed a population of 3,114 in the town with the two largest demographics being the 25-44 and 45-54 age groups.

The new Virden Community Multi-purpose Recreation Facility includes a 1,200-seat arena with an NHL-size ice surface, 500-seat community hall, meeting rooms, office space, an indoor walking track, fitness centre and food services.

The facility was the host site March 29-April 1 of the Telus Cup Western Regional Championship, a Hockey Canada event for midget AAA players.

The Saints have changed home arenas in each of the past three years. The St. James Civic Centre was their home in 2011-12 following St. Adolphe and the Dakota Community Centre the previous two seasons.

Virden is approximately 285 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2012 D1

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