Good news for hockey fans - after a long absence, the Fort Saskatchewan Traders might be coming back to the city.
The Friends of the Traders presented to council yesterday (April 25) on the possibility of relocating a hockey franchise to the Jubilee Recreation Centre (JRC).
"The best thing we have going for our community is that it is a hockey town," commented councillor Ed Sperling. "Do the right things and you can build out a loyal group of sponsors and volunteers, I think it's a great opportunity."
The group's representative, Gord Thibodeau, requested council look at just how feasible entering into a lease with the city would be, along with upgrades to the JRC.
"I think there's opportunity in the league right now that (the Friends of the Traders group) wants to take advantage of," added Sperling. "I think Fort Saskatchewan is a great fit for the league, I think there's some synergies there with the area."
Hockey Alberta recognizes Fort Saskatchewan as a major centre for hosting AA and AAA "elite stream" programs for local and surrounding Peewee, Bantam and Midget players.
In Olds, a survey of businesses found that the AJHL franchise brought in around $700,000 in business. In Whitecourt, the economic benefits closed in on $1 million.
The team already has a good history in the Fort, lasting from 1976 until 2007. They won two division titles, three regular season titles and two league championships. They produced numerous NHL players Clint Malarchuk, Mike Commodore, Jim Playfair, Dave Babych, Sheldon Souray and Olympian Shannon Szabados. The team left for St Albert and has since moved on.
A potential team would bring in NCAA and WHL scouts, as the AJHL is one of the last stops before stepping into those higher-profile leagues. It would also bring in high-profile games like the AJHL All Star game, Royal Bank Cup as well as other games.
A motion was made to bring the topic up again next meeting.