The Wenatchee Wild are done with the BCHL and now move over to the WHL. This move has been in the works behind the scenes since the BCHL’s problems moving forward after leaving Hockey Canada were becoming very evident.
Wenatchee Wild owner David White has navigated the USA Hockey and Hockey Canada political lanscape for years, and has proven to be a master at this often difficult proposition.
Bliss Littler, has also been around the block a time or two and now gets an opportunity to operate a club in the Western Hockey League.
The Wild have always operated at a level above the rest of the BCHL. Players have always been given the best of everything, and the community has always supported the team. The only additional expense for ownership will be the player stipened and contributing to educational packages. To play in the WHL though, this would seem a small price to pay after the franchise fee.
Why make the move though? After the BCHL voted to leave Hockey Canada, why make the sudden jump to the WHL and rejoin Hockey Canada?
Politics and pressure.
Wenatchee recently added a team within their organization that will compete in the CSSHL(Canadian Sport School Hockey League). They also have a very large and talented group of development teams playing within the NAPHL circuit.
The CSSHL sanctioned by Hockey Canada was looking at Wenatchee’s involvement with the BCHL very closely and rumors were spreading that their BCHL involvement could negatively impact their involvement with the CSSHL. Being in the BCHL would have also provided very difficult political problems within USA Hockey.
The transition from Tier II junior hockey now to Major Junior is going to require a lot of heavy lifting. All the trades made recently are void. All the player agreements made can be voided, and some serious recruiting of the most talented players around the world needs to take place.
This will be made easier though because the Wild are not going to be an expansion team. The Wild made this move by acquiring the Winnipeg Ice franchise and relocating it to Wenatchee. That roster is loaded with talent, and Wenatchee is going to see some incredible hockey starting this fall.
The BCHL is now down a team. Other teams within the BCHL are not satisfied with how the move to become independent outside of Hockey Canada is going. With a new Hockey Canada sanctioned Tier II league in the works, there may be some within the BCHL who are looking to jump ship to the new league and return to Hockey Canada.
The move to the WHL is bold, and it is going to be great for hockey in Wenatchee. This move by David White and the Wenatchee Wild repeats the statement they have made since moving to Wenatchee from California. The Wild will only deliver the best possible product to Wenatchee.