Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

UPDATED: Cougars 'remain committed' to Prince George as sale talk spreads

Online petition launched to keep the team in the city
The Cougars celebrate a goal during a game against the Wild in Wentachee on Dec. 15, 2023.

The Prince George Cougars are for sale and have at least three interested potential buyers, one of whom wants to move the team to Chilliwack.

A source close to the Citizen said the Cougars' ownership group informed the Western Hockey League executive in Calgary about a month ago that the Prince George franchise is available for purchase for an asking price of $8 million.

Several hours after this story broke, the Cougars used X, formerly Twitter, to make a statement: "Cougars fans, we hear your concerns about today’s article. Rest assured, we’re committed to Prince George. More information will be shared shortly." The message also appeared on the team's Facebook page.

Later, that was followed up with this: "The Prince George Cougars and the Western Hockey League remain committed to the community of Prince George. We remain grateful to the outstanding fans, billets, volunteers and staff throughout the community, who support and contribute to the existing success of the Cougars in Northern B.C."

The statement from the team and the WHL calls the Citizen's coverage "wrought with inaccuracies," adding: "The WHL remains the world's finest development league for junior hockey players, and as such, it regularly receives interest from outside parties looking to invest in and become a part of what we do."

In the statement, the team indicates the new season will open in Prince George at the CN Centre on Sept. 20 against Spokane.

Representatives of the Cougars did not respond to interview requests for more information earlier Tuesday.

When asked about the potential sale, a WHL official contacted by the Citizen declined to comment.

As news spread about the situation an online petition was started with the aim of keeping the team in the city. It can be found at

The source said Vancouver Canucks owner/chairman Francesco Aquilini wants to buy the Cougars and base the team in the 5,000-seat Chilliwack Coliseum, the former home of the Chilliwack Bruins, who moved to Victoria to become the Royals in 2011.

He said Aquilini has been trying to buy the Chilliwack rink from Chiefs Development Group, which owns and operates the facility, but the city has resisted signing off on the deal.

“I think he’s trying to buy the Chiefs’ arena and then buy the Cougars and move them in there,” said the source, who spoke to the Citizen on the condition of anonymity.

There have been at least two other inquiries about the Cougars, including one based in Prince George who would potentially keep the team in the city.

“Yesterday was the first time I heard that there could be a local group that’s inquired, which I was surprised at,” said the source.

The EDGEPRO Sports & Entertainment ownership group, which includes local businessmen Greg Pocock, John Pateman, Ray Fortier, and Ernest Ouellet, as well as former NHL defencemen Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis (both former Cougars players), bought the franchise from Rick Brodsky in an April 2014 deal believed to be worth $7 million.

2023-24 was a banner season for the Cougars.

They won their second B.C. Division title and captured their first WHL Western Conference regular season crown, establishing new franchise records for wins (49) and points (102).

In the playoffs, in front of sellout crowds at CN Centre, the Cats went on to eliminate the Spokane Chiefs and Kelowna Rockets and lost to the Portland Winterhawks in a six-game third-round series for the Western Conference championship.

But their success on the ice was not enough to stop the financial bleeding.

The source estimates the Cougars’ ownership lost at least a million dollars operating the team for the past several seasons, but he said their playoff run this past spring will certainly help alleviate some of that debt.

The team’s average attendance through 34 home games at CN Centre was 3,519, which ranked 15th in the 22-team league, just behind Vancouver Giants (3,673) and just ahead of Regina Pats (3,219).

At that time they purchased the team in 2014 the Cougars had the worst attendance in the league, averaging 1,693 per game, 29 per cent of the rink’s 5,967 capacity.

Brodsky moved the team north from Victoria and the Cougars played one season (1994-95) in the Prince George Coliseum until CN Centre was built.

With files from Citizen staff