Winterhawks sale should close Dec. 31; price tag is US$5,850,000 . . . Virus takes two off U.S. roster

Joshua Critzer, who has been following the saga of the Portland Winter Hawks on Twitter (@jjcritzer), has posted a series of 14 tweets involving the sale of the WHL franchise.

You will recall that the franchise went into receivership in May after owner Bill PortlandAlternateGallacher apparently wasn’t able to repay money that had been borrowed in 2018 with the Winterhawks’ franchise among the collateral.

Gallacher had purchased the Winterhawks in October 2008.

Here, then, are the Critzer tweets:

The purchase price is listed as US$5,850,000. The new ownership group will be known as Winterhawks Sports Group LLC. The sale is expected to be approved in the necessary Canadian and Oregon courts. As first reported by Jeff Marek of Sportsnet, Kerry Preete will be one of the primary owners. Michael Kramer is the second. There may be other members of the ownership group, but they are not listed on any of the court documents.

Included in the sales price are the majority of Portland’s assets such as: All cash, intellectual property (i.e., 78 domain names and use of the Winterhawks logos), tangible personal property, rights associated with membership in the WHL, sponsorship contracts, and more.

The closing date for the sale is 12/31.

After the Receiver approved the new owners, there were two conditions. Both “have been met or waived”: 1. WHL Approval (League did approve); 2. A new lease for the Winterhawks practice facility. . . . The Winterhawks will stay in Portland.

The new owners are also taking on many of the liabilities including: Anything owed to customers after cancelling last season, up to $200,000 as a result of a lawsuit against the WHL for allegedly misclassifying players as amateur athletes rather than employees, two leased vehicles, accounts payable owing to the WHL up to US$10,718 and US$38,347, and all liabilities arising after the closing date that were incurred in the ordinary course of business.

One main liability is excluded, “in respect to employees.” Regarding employees: The new owners may make a written offer of employment to any employee at least 5 days prior to closing. In the court documents obtained, “9 employees shall have accepted an offer” with the new ownership. Mike Johnston & Kyle Gustafson are among the 9.

After reading the court documents, the new owners may make a written offer to any of the Portland scouts including those in temporary layoff/furlough. They would become “Transferred Contractors” and keep the same “active or inactive status & compensation” prior to the sale.

At the start, 34 parties executed a confidentiality agreement and 6 offers were submitted by 6/30. Three were chosen to participate in a 2nd round, only one submitted a “competitive offer.” The Receiver couldn’t come to an agreement with that party. All 6 offers are sealed.

When the 2nd round failed to produce a competitive offer, a broker was retained by the Receiver to help with the sale. The broker had previous experience selling WHL teams. They would have received a 3% commission. It is believed the principal of that entity is Daryl Henry.

On 9/23 the Receiver was contacted by the new owners and on 10/23 the diligence was completed allowing the process to move forward with league approval, as well as solution for the practice facility lease. The new owners placed a deposit of US$312,500 as part of the sale.

An important aspect of the sale is the new owners “agree to co-operate and execute any written assignment and assumption pertaining to the Standard Player Agreement as recognized by the WHL.” A key aspect of the Standard Player Agreement is the education benefit for players.

The sale price of the Winterhawks was impacted by the current situation with COVID-19, lost revenue from last season, and uncertainty pertaining to when fans will return to games. The majority of revenue for WHL teams comes from ticket sales.

Lastly, after the Winterhawks’ previous owner defaulted on a loan, the Portland organization, and the Receiver, sought out a new owner by the start of the 2020-2021 WHL season. This sale accomplishes that goal.


Some notes related to the sale of the Winterhawks, who are expected to hold a news conference in the near future. . . .

The sale price of US$5,850,000 translates to Cdn$7,471,269. . . . Bill Gallacher purchased the franchise from Jim Goldsmith, Jack Donovan and John Bryant in October 2008 for what was believed to be about Cdn$7.5 million. . . . At that time, I wrote: “That would be a record price for a WHL franchise. The Kamloops Blazers were sold last summer for a price that ended up being around Cdn$6.1 million. The last expansion franchise, which was sold to the NHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings two years ago, carried a Cdn$4-million price tag.” . . . In the last two seasons under the Goldsmith, Donovan and Bryant ownership, the Winterhawks had the WHL’s poorest record. . . . Under Gallacher and with Mike Johnston as general manager and head coach, the Winterhawks became one of the WHL’s flagship franchises. . . .

Bonnie and Kerry Preete. (Photo: U of Saskatchewan)

Kerry Preete, one of the new owners, joined Monsanto in 1985, but left the company after it was bought up by Bayer A.G. in 2018 for US$70 billion. At the end, he was the executive vice-president and chief strategy officer. . . . Preete, 60, is from Melfort, Sask. He has a bachelor of commerce degree from the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and an MBA from Washington University (Olin Business School) in St. Louis. . . . He played in the SJHL in the late 1970s with the Prince Albert Raiders and Humboldt Broncos, before going to the U of Saskatchewan. While there, he played for the Huskies under head coach Dave King and won a national championship in 1983. Preete spent time on a line with Dave Adolph, who went on to coach the Huskies and is the winningest coach in Canadian university hockey history. Adolph announced earlier this month that he will be retiring in April. Also on that Huskies team: Willie Desjardins, now the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . At the same time, Preete’s wife, Bonnie, was playing for the women’s hockey team, then nicknamed the Huskiettes. . . . The Preetes donated $150,000 to the campaign that resulted in a new arena — Merlis Belsher Place — for the U of S hockey teams. . . . Kerry and Bonnie have three sons; he coached them in minor hockey in St. Louis. He also was a director with the Amateur Hockey Association of Missouri. . . . If you believe in coincidences, Gallacher and the Preetes all lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., a short time ago.

Team USA decided on its roster for the World Junior Championship on Saturday 2021WJCin Plymouth, Mich., but not before having to drop two players because of one positive test. . . . F John Beecher, a Boston Bruins’ first-round pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, tested positive. That took him and roommate F Thomas Bordeleau off the roster. The San Jose Sharks selected Bordeleau in the second round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He is the son of former NHLer Sebastien Bordeleau. . . . Beecher’s father, Bill, told the Boston Globe that his son had a second test that came back negative. But according to the IIHF’s pre-tournament protocol a single positive calls for disqualification. . . . Beecher and Bordeleau both play at the U of Michigan and were back on campus later Saturday. . . . G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips is on the U.S.’s roster for a second straight year. He made one appearance in the 2020 tournament. This time, he is expected to back up Spencer Knight, a first-round pick by the Florida Panthers who is also back for a second go-round. . . . The U.S. also won’t have D Nicholas Robertson, 19, on its roster after the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs chose not to make him available. Robertson, a California who played for the Peterborough Petes last season, has been quarantining in Toronto. He made his NHL debut on Aug. 2 in the Toronto bubble. . . . The 10-team 2021 WJC opens Dec. 25 in the Edmonton bubble. All teams will be into the bubble on Sunday.



The Associated Press: Charley Pride, country music’s first Black star — whose rich baritone on such hits as Kiss an Angel Good Morning helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — has died. He was 86. . . . Pride died Saturday in Dallas of complications from COVID-19, according to Jeremy Westby of the public relations firm 2911 Media.

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg: There are 18 more deaths and 360 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba today. . . . Cases: 20,750. . . . Active cases: 5,630. . . . Deaths: 483. . . . Hospitalizations: 289. . . . ICU: 42. . . . Provincial test positivity: 13.9. . . . Winnipeg test positivity: 13.2%.

CBC News: Saskatchewan reports 274 new cases of COVID-19 and a record 11 additional deaths.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,590 new COVID-19 cases along with 13 deaths.

B.C.: Crickets.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,873 new cases of COVID-19, including 522 cases in Toronto, 436 in Peel and 185 in York Region.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,898 new cases of COVID-19. The province added 40 deaths to its total, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 1 new case of COVID-19 in the Saint John region. There are 72 known active cases in the province. 4 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 3 in intensive care.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 of the cases are travel-related; the source of the remaining case is under investigation. There are 23 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital due to the virus.

CBC News: Nunavut adds 2 new COVID-19 cases today.  Both in Arviat.   Also 8 cases in Arviat listed as recovered.  Current active cases in Arviat: 50.  No active cases in any other Nunavut communities.


Keyontae Johnson, a star basketball player with Florida, collapsed on the court as the Gators and Florida State Seminoles were coming out of a timeout on Saturday afternoon. Johnson, who along with most of his teammates tested positive over the summer, was taken to a Tallahassee hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition. . . .

NFL teams had at least three players test positive on Saturday. RB Myles Gaskin of the Miami Dolphins, DE Everyone Griffen of the Detroit Lions and LB Jachai Polite of the Los Angeles Rams all went on the reserve/COVID-19 list and won’t be playing today (Sunday). . . .

Saturday’s scheduled NCAA football game that was to have California playing at the Washington State Cougars was cancelled less than two hours before kickoff because of a positive test and contact tracing with the Golden Bears. . . . The Cougars now have had three games cancelled or postponed because of the virus.

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873



Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182


Or, for more information, visit right here.


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