Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Done deal: Saints moving to Virden

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BRANDON -- Members of the Winnipeg Saints are wondering what's in store for their futures after being told the Manitoba Junior Hockey League team is in the process of being sold to new owners in Virden.

Neither the team nor the MJHL have commented on the prospective sale, but Saints forward Jonny Gaudet told the Brandon Sun on Friday that the players have been told that a deal was done and waiting for final details, including league approval, to be worked out.

"We had our banquet on Monday. They told us straight up there will be no Winnipeg Saints next year," said Gaudet, who has played two seasons for the Saints after beginning the 2010-11 season with the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings.

The move to Virden, which has a new 1,200-seat arena that hosted the Midget AAA Telus Cup Regional Championship this spring, has been rumoured for months. The players heard the whispers, but Gaudet said they were in the dark until the days following their loss to the Portage Terriers in the MJHLàfinal.

"In January and February, I heard rumours about that, but one day at practice Dave (Anning, the Saints head coach and general manager) told us that it wasn't true. A day after we lost to Portage in Game 5, he had no idea what was going to happen. He got a call at 12:30 in the afternoon from the owner and he told him it was sold.

"We had our exit meetings later that day and (Anning) told me and I was pretty shocked."

It remains to be seen how the sale will affect a roster heavily laden with Winnipeggers, some of whom have never played for a team based outside the city before, but Gaudet said he'd be thrilled to play in Virden and believes it would be a good experience for the players.

"There's guys that obviously have jobs and stuff like that, like myself," said Gaudet, who will be 20 and in his final year of junior hockey next season. "I'm willing to give up my job and go down there and maybe find a job or something like that, but... some guys go to school at the University of Manitoba, so they're worried about that. There's 13 guys coming back next year and I've talked to a couple of them. I think nine or 10 are on board right now. A couple are questionable because of school and because obviously guys haven't lived away from home before, so it'll be a big difference for them because they're used to living in the city and being around family and stuff."

The Virden ownership group has not been publicly identified yet. MJHLàcommissioner Kim Davis could not be reached for comment Friday.

 

-- The Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2012 C6

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