Former Prince George Cougars defenceman Dan Hamhuis is now a current Prince George Cougars owner, after finalizing a purchase for the club as part of an investment group that includes current NHLer and Cougar alumni Eric Brewer and businessman Greg Pocock.
“I’ve got a real close attachment with Prince George because I played junior there,” Hamhuis told the Prince George Citizen.
“It’s also a place personally that means a lot to me, meeting my wife (Sarah) there, getting married, having our first kid. We still go back every summer for our charity golf tournament and from being up north (Smithers) there are just a lot of close personal ties.”
The Cougars have been struggling at the gate of late, with the second lowest attendance figures in the CHL at just under 2,000 per game, the result of an 18 per cent decline over the last two seasons. They’ve also missed the playoffs in five of the last seven seasons.
Those numbers have sparked rumours that the club was set to pack up and move to Winnipeg or Nanaimo next season.
With the local purchase, those rumours can be put to bed.
Hamhuis told the Prince George Citizen that the investment group is committed to keeping the team in Prince George.
“It is two guys (Hamhuis and Brewer) that have played there, both guys have their wives from there and the businessmen that are involved are all Prince George guys so obviously that’s the goal,” Hamhuis told the Prince George Citizen.
“It’s never been discussed in our group to move the team. We believe that Prince George is a place where it can work.” But Hamhuis sees this as a business opportunity as much as a
Though the team is losing money, Hamhuis still sees it as a solid financial move.
“On the business side it looks like it could be a good investment,” he said.
“I believe in the city and we hope to get the building full again. And I think we can do it. It’s a great hockey city up there, there are so many hockey fans. Hopefully, this renews some interest with the change of ownership.”
Earlier this month the Prince George Citizen reported that the team was purchased for between $7 and $8 million. The completion of the sale is expected within the next two weeks.
Hamhuis spent four seasons with the Cougars, beginning in 1998. He played in 247 games over four seasons, tallying 156 points.