Talk of OHL in Brantford ‘absolutely premature’: mayor
Brantford is no stranger to speculation about the OHL coming to town.
Whispers of that sort have popped up regularly since the old Brantford Alexanders moved to Hamilton in 1984.
Wednesday, the Erie Otters – yes, the same Erie Otters that currently feature 18-year-old wunderkind Connor McDavid – filed for bankruptcy, setting off a new round of rumours.
Still, Brantford’s mayor says it’s “absolutely premature” to assume there’s any more fire behind this smoke than there has been in the past.
“We can have discussions and we can talk about it … but in the last five years, I’ve probably had maybe six, seven, eight, overtures from companies or individuals that want to put a team here,” Chris Friel told CTV News.
One of the biggest issues preventing a return of major junior hockey to the city of 94,000 could be its arena situation.
The Brantford Civic Centre currently holds fewer than 3,000 people, which would make it the smallest arena in the OHL.
It’s also in need of significant renovations.
The Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre is newer and in better shape, but even smaller than the Civic Centre.
Friel says he would love to see the OHL eventually return to Brantford in some capacity, and believes the city would be able to support a team.
According to Erie owner Sherry Bassin, the declaration of bankruptcy was a move intended to prevent Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz from selling off the Otters and their assets via his Ontario Major Junior Hockey Corporation.
The team is currently in debt, and Bassin says he plans to pay off Katz and the other creditors.
Any sale of the Otters isn’t expected to take place until the summer – and even then, Bassin says he intends to keep the team in Erie for “a long time.”
With files from The Canadian Press