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Kelowna Chiefs franchise sold to new owner

Former Kelowna Spartan Darren Tmchyshyn has purchased team from Jason Tansem

The Kelowna Chiefs are now under new ownership.

Following announcement on Thursday, May 2, the KIJHL team has been sold from Jason Tansem to Darren Tymchyshyn. The sale price was not disclosed.

However, team will continue to play home games at Rutland Arena next season, but on top of a new owner, they could possibly have a new head coach for the 2024-25 season.

The announcement of the sale comes after rumours of the team being relocated to Quesnel or Williams Lake.

The board of governors for the KIJHL voted to approve the sale of the franchise to Tymchyshyn.

“The KIJHL is excited to have Darren join our league as the owner of the Kelowna Chiefs and help continue the great tradition of KIJHL hockey in the Central Okanagan,” said KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois.

“Darren is highly motivated to continue the great work of previous owners Grant Sheridan and Jason Tansem, and ensure the Chiefs have a successful and sustainable program at the Junior A level for years to come.”

Tansem told Black Press Media that the deal to sell came together now largely because of timing.

“Darren has been interested in buying the team for a couple of years but just wasn’t the right moment,” Tansem told the Kelowna Capital News. “This spring there were lots of opportunities with Quesnel and Williams Lake both looking for teams, and Merritt looking for a team.”

Earlier this spring, the North Okanagan Knights relocated to Quesnel while the Summerland Steam moved to Williams Lake. The Merritt Centennials dropped their BCHL status to join the KIJHL.

Tansem said his intent has always been to keep the Chiefs in Kelowna, which was confirmed by the KIJHL club sale announcement,

Involved with the club for 10 years, Tansem became a co-owner seven years ago with Grant Sheridan, until his death in 2019.

Tansem has served multiple roles with the team including general manager, head coach and assistant coach.

He said owning a junior hockey franchise is “not all the glamour that people might think,” calling it a 24/7 assignment dealing with players, coaches, billet families, team sponsors, team inquiries from various directions and social media presence.

“I loved the coaching part and recruiting players part and dealing with the boys…I love the relationships with the players and that was what drove me to (take on ownership of a team),” he said.

The Rutland Arena concession and skate shop operated by the Chiefs are not part of the sale, according to Tansem. So, the 47-year-old will retain ownership of those services.

Also occupying his time moving forward will be helping with the family business in Edmonton, as his father enters retirement.

“I am not moving to Edmonton. I will be staying in Kelowna, but I will start out as an advisor to the business and help it move forward as my dad steps back from it,” he said.

He also hopes to have more time watching his 18-year-old son Seth, who plays in the Western Hockey League for the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Meanwhile, Tymchyshyn is no stranger to Kelowna.

A native of Vegreville, Alta., Tymchyshyn played three seasons for the junior franchise, the Kelowna Spartans from 1991 to 1994.

His best season in the 1993-94 season saw him score 38 goals and register 64 assists in 57 games.

He then followed the collegiate route, playing two seasons for the University of Illinois-Chicago before moving on to Cornell University for the following two seasons.

Since graduating from Cornell, he has established a business career as a financial advisor.

“As a player, parent and coach it has been a dream of mine for some time to own a Junior A franchise,” said Tymchyshyn.

“The opportunity to acquire a franchise with the passionate fans, volunteers and sponsors the Chiefs possess was something I couldn’t pass up.

“I guarantee to work hard to ensure local players will want to play close to home in front of our loyal fans. Rutland is a passionate hockey community that has embraced the Chiefs and I look forward to building on this success and pride.

“I would like to thank Jason Tansem and the KIJHL for this opportunity.”

The status of head coach Travers Rebman and assistant coach Chase Witala remains uncertain as the new owner has already posted the job vacancies while inviting both to submit their names for consideration.

However, as Tansem moves on, the now-former owner remains bullish on the Chiefs continuing to be a success on and off the ice, continuing to be part of a hockey community in the Central Okanagan that is now home to three junior hockey level teams.

“I don’t consider the Chiefs as competition to the (Kelowna) Rockets or the (West Kelowna) Warriors…it is apples and oranges,” he said.

“We don’t try to be anything we are not. We don’t compete for their fans or calibre of play. We offer an opportunity for players who aspire to go beyond minor hockey, to maybe earn a scholarship, to go to the next level.”

READ MORE: Chiefs gear up for next KIJHL season


Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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