The LNAH’s Cornwall River Kings is threatening to be put up for sale for anyone (including out of town buyers), as owner Bernie Villeneuve is no longer willing to finance the team. Reason being is the club is losing out on advertising rights from the Junior A Cornwall Colts who also share the ice inside the Ed Lumley Arena in the Cornwall Civic Complex.
Villeneuve held a press conference outside of city hall last Thursday detailing the ordeal and was actually going to sit outside of city hall until Monday night. If nothing is rectified, meaning an advertising deal or a new owner, the league will take over the team. The next day, Director of Hockey Operations, Rick Lapierre stepped down from his position. Many felt he was the one responsible for the players not willing to report to camp. Villeneuve has since vacated his spot.
Captain Steve Simoes ushered in the message for the fans:
“The players want to get back on the ice and start competing again. Many returning faces, a couple new faces, players drafted, players invited; everyone will have a fair shot to be seen, evaluated and fight for a spot on this team. The time has come to finally put all this “stuff” behind us and gel as a team. And by team, I mean everyone that is looking for hockey in Cornwall. I understand everyone’s hesitation and wanting to see the product first, but I do trust that we will have a competitive team, with a mix of skill and toughness, that is representative of the people of Cornwall. Due to the contractual agreements in place and certain situations, what will keep this team afloat are season ticket sales. With this certain revenue flow, potential owners will be able to gauge the risk of keeping this team here. Season tickets will average around $250 therefore, a commitment from the people of Cornwall is needed to get us back on track. If you know one person or a couple of people that would be interested in some season tickets, please do come forward and show your interest. It’s a guideline that is needed for future local investors. Thanks again, and the time has come to back each other up; on the ice and off the ice. So lets get this started and see you at training camp!!!”
This is not a city issue like some people are making it out to be. Mayor Kilger and the city of Cornwall have nothing to do with it. We all know Cornwall is a viable hockey market and teams can thrive. We’ve seen it with the Royals, the Aces, and the Comets. There is no doubt that the people of Cornwall can come together and be able to finance the team to intrigue investors. Hell, teams in the U.K. are funded solely on fans donations.
The River Kings aren’t dead. They’re just getting started.