UPDATE: Savards open to local offers on P.E.I. Rocket

Charles Reid
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

League will arrange sale to off-Island group if no Island interests come forward before April 26 for P.E.I.'s QMJHL team

It's official. The Savard family name might not be on the P.E.I. Rocket much longer.

Sarge Savard Jr., president and governor of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, confirmed Wednesday the league has offered to buy the struggling franchise.

And Serge Savard Jr., Rocket president and governor, said he's taking the money, somewhere around $3.5 million, unless he can find a local buyer or buyers for the team.

The league contacted the Rocket on Monday with the proposal.

"The offer came in. It's a firm offer. We are going to take the offer. He's got our numbers. Financially, it makes sense," Savard said, who lives in Stratford.

"We've lost $1.5 million over the last two years. Nobody likes to lose that kind of money. At some point you have to realize it's not working. It's a sad day for me."

Savard said league commissioner Gilles Corteau has given him until April 26 to secure a buyer.

He also said the team lost over $300,000 this past season, and the Savard family, including father Serge Savard, can't afford to invest anymore of its money in a failing product.

The Rocket has suffered dwindling attendance over the last nine seasons at its home at the Charlottetown Civic Centre. P.E.I.'s yearly operating cost is about $1.8 million and it needs about 2,200 fans per game to break even.

That hasn't happened.

This season, one in which the Rocket won a franchise-record 41 games, reached the playoffs after a year's absence and posted two players with 100-plus points, the team averaged 1,805 paid spectators.

So far, Trent Birt, Rocket vice-president of operations, said he's talked to several potential local investors, but there are no offers.

This move throws a wrench onto the team's planned unveiling of its new name, the P.E.I. Islanders, new logo and colours originally scheduled for Thursday.

That's on hold, although the team will continue its regular operations until the deadline.

RDS, the French language version of TSN, reported a group headed by current NHLers François Beauchemin and Marc-Andre Fleury, and former pro Marc Denis, is in the mix.

That group would move the team to Sorel, Que., which had major junior hockey, the Eperviers, from 1968-81. The team eventually became the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in 1997.

Two years ago, the league stepped in and bought the floundering Lewiston Maineiacs for about $3.5 million, folded the franchise and dispersed the players.

At the end of this season, Leo-Guy Morrissette, owner of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, sold the team to a group of local businessmen and investors.

Savard said the league doesn't do things like this unless it has a Plan B.

"The last thing they want to do is operate a team," he said.

As for Savard, he's ready to sell outright, or to become a majority or minority owner.

"We're open to anything," he said.

The Savard family owns 124 of 128 shares in the team and has operated the Rocket since 1999. The then-Montreal Rocket moved to P.E.I. in 2003.

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Islanders

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Montreal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • FromAway
    April 18, 2013 - 14:38

    Major announcement on Sportsnet this afternoon about Summerside.... Can't imagine what it is?

  • Investors Wanted
    April 17, 2013 - 22:42

    300 shares at 10,000 a share. Buy and sell as you wish! If only there was more time. This will work. Some share holders will want to have 10 shares. Some 1. More time and it will work! Islanders the only name! We know they are PEI. Local investors will work! Out with the old and in with the new. Give us a contender and the rink will be full! We need a Gardiner MacDougall to build a team! It can be done, but the wrong people were trying to guide this team but not in the right direction. I refer not to coaching staff, but to the upper management.

  • Serious Reader
    April 17, 2013 - 21:15

    This is the definition of "Losers"..players,managers,owners etc. etc. Fans or no fans - what ordinary person would pay good money to see this non-performance. I like hockey but the reality is they are not worth the price of a ticket (plus HST)...Move on Sevards.

  • Jeff
    April 17, 2013 - 18:56

    Just leave PEI already! Time to focus on important island issues! I'm sure the 1000 fans will find somthing else to spend their money on! Bye bye Rocket

  • fafafooey that's bababooey
    April 17, 2013 - 18:49

    A new rink will not matter....the support just isn't here on old PIE.

  • Mike McTague
    April 17, 2013 - 18:19

    I have been a season ticket holder and billet family in the past and will be sad if the Rocket depart. We have watched the likes of Crosby Giroux Fleury Bernier MacKinnon Desharnais and countless other NHLers over the past decade. The facility is a problem the Habs or Leafs could play at the CCC and in time it would be an 1800 seat draw with only diehards left to support. I do struggle with the argument that I often hear that this is a hockey town. For some maybe but when a plane load of Val Dor fans are more vocal than our 2500+ fans I question our passion and our true red white and blue rocket blood. It's a broken arena and a broken product but I am not sure that we as fans are fully assembled either.

  • reality check
    April 17, 2013 - 18:10

    The majority of pro sports fans are men under 50. Most of PEI's men under 50 are moving to the Alberta oil fields. PEI is a retiree haven and with high taxes and little disposable income, you won't see pro sports teams staying here. I predict the Rocket/Islanders will be gone April 26. I predict the basketball team in S'side will be gone too - the owner Duncan Shaw took a bath last year and this year. Like the Savards, he's not in it for the charity. And I predict that the Western Caps might even leave. The Abbies will never return, that's almost a certainty too. There simply isn't the money or the fan support out there.

  • Ernie
    April 17, 2013 - 15:28

    Lots of uneducated comments here about team losing money and no-one cares. The team wouldn't lose money if it was managed correctly. The on-ice product has been in shambles for years. Savard's 14-year tenure as an unaccountable GM has been a bumbling mess of mistakes. 1 Playoff series win in 14 seasons. Countless seasons at the bottom of the league with no hope of a playoff run. Sometimes couldn't even make the playoffs in a league where only 2 teams are left out. All this kills a fan base. Serge Jr. has not given Island fans anything to cheer for. The team finished 7th out of 18 teams this year and lost in the first round in 6 games. Sadly, this result was hailed one of the team's most successful seasons. A properly run franchise with an ownership group that Islanders trust and a team that has even moderate success on the ice can flourish on PEI.

    • Frankie
      April 17, 2013 - 17:23

      so you are educated in all things hockey and business?? Just because a team never makes the playoffs or is always in the basement doesn't mean no one goes to the games. Does the name Toronto Maple Leafs ring a bell with you? Haven't won the cup in 46 years and still sell out. There are lots of reasons why people don't go watch the Rocket play and you can't blame them all on Serge Savard. Personally I couldn't care less if I ever see them play but then I'm not a hockey nut, it doesn't control my life. If you are starving for good sports, go watch the Storm play, now that's entertainment!

    • Wade
      April 17, 2013 - 19:37

      I agree 100 percent with you

  • pj
    April 17, 2013 - 14:25

    Can not believe any intelligent Islander would even CONSIDER such a ridiculous idea of paying 3.5 million for a team losing over $300.00 yearly.

    • jonah
      April 17, 2013 - 14:49

      what would fair market value be?

  • justanotherislander
    April 17, 2013 - 14:05

    It will be sad to see the Rocket go. I wish people have some respect for others. Why is it always Summerside vs. Charlottetown? There is many people beyond the bridge in Stratford that went to those games. This team going is going to have a huge impact on surrounding communities. This is the only thing some families do in the winter. I know our family will be impacted by this loss. Sad day in PEI even if they were a Quebec team they were our Island team.

  • Jeff
    April 17, 2013 - 13:54

    Who really cares about this Rocket team? Let them go. When there is hardly anyone at the games in the first place, why would anyone want to buy the team! QMJHL is not near as good as AHL! Bye Bye Rocket!!

    • CFA
      April 17, 2013 - 15:04

      Jeff how do you even begin to compare the QMJHL and the AHL?? The Q is a JUNIOR league where the players are 16-20 years old, where as the AHL is ONE STEP below the NHL and most of the players there will see at least a shot with an NHL club; where as 65% of Q players won't play competitive hockey past their Junior careers. Yes, in the past PEI had and lost an AHL team but comparing the skill level of the QMJHL to the AHL is like comparing the skill level of a Novice Hockey to Major Midget Hockey....IT'S NOT GOING TO BE AS GOOD.... Way to be Captain Frigging Obvious.

    • nitpicker
      April 18, 2013 - 07:20

      If you choose to look at the bigger picture, just "letting them go" means more than simply the Rocket hockey team. In addition to a number of people losing their jobs, the civic centre will now be without an anchor tenant. A 3700 seat facility with nothing it in it besides minor hockey and beer leagues. Not good. The city will lose big $$.

  • Trevor MacRae
    April 17, 2013 - 13:31

    Too bad the deadline is in 8 days. One way to improve fan support would be the Green Bay Packers model -- 100% owned and managed by their fans. PEI can't pull this off for the full price of the club, but "community" ownership to some degree could improve local support.

  • HST
    April 17, 2013 - 13:26

    I make decent money for pei-gross about 50 grand a year-I love sports-but you know what-with the HST getting thrown on my lights and gas I really dont have much disposable income left after I pay all my bills...PEI is dying faster than we realize.

  • Garth Sanderson
    April 17, 2013 - 13:12

    I have not seen and Western Caps games played in Charlottetown,so why would any team want to play any games in S'side

  • johnny come lately
    April 17, 2013 - 12:58

    Bye bye QMJHL and PEI Rocket ! Bye bye NBL and Summerside Storm ! Bye bye Junior A! There is nobody left in PEI willing to support you. Our extra disposable income is eaten up by HST.

    • Frankie
      April 17, 2013 - 13:37

      why would you say bye bye NBL? The Storm are not going anywhere, well there is always talk of going to Charlottetown (which I hope doesn't happen) but they are staying put on PEI. They average well over 2000 people per game. Attendance to their games isn't a problem. The only problem for the Storm is the City of Summerside/Credit Union place and hopefully they can come to an agreement.

  • Wondering??
    April 17, 2013 - 12:42

    I am curious as to who would pay 3.5 million for a Junior Hockey team that has lost 300,000 per year for the last 10 yrs? Doesnt sound like a very good business operation to me....So if you invest 3.5 million and then lose 3 million more over the next ten yrs I wonder if they could sell it to a group in Quebec for 6.5 million in 2023???Maybe the CHL will offer to buy it again......

  • protopline
    April 17, 2013 - 12:31

    Not going to lose any sleep over them leaving. Went to 1 game this year, Got there at 6.25pm for a 7pm game and guess what no parking avaiable as 2 tour buses were taking up several spots. Get into the rink and line up was so big and slow we got our tickets and into the game with 9 mins left in the 1st. BRUTAL!!!!! Never went back and dont plan too.

    April 17, 2013 - 11:32

    Any NHL'ers with ties to PEI interested?. Maybe they can throw some pocket change together and buy this team. Get a few locals to run the day to day operations. The franchise was doomed when they moved to PEI and neglected to rebrand the team from day one. Islanders need something they can call their own to support. There was no significance in the Rocket brand to PEI, and it was almost as if we were being forced ti support a team that was not our own. When franchises move, the entire identity should change to reflect the destination. Colorado Nordiques? Winnipeg Thrashers? Carolina Whalers? I bet these weren't even considered as options....

  • Rural PEI
    April 17, 2013 - 11:27

    This will be a big hit to Charlottetown, I go to 7 or 8 games a year. Take my kids / friends. We always do some shopping and get something to eat. The Civic Centre will also miss the ice rental / canteen from this. Big hit for PEI and especially charlottetown. Panthers is great hockey but not as much interaction with the kids as the rocket games.

  • A poorly run business
    April 17, 2013 - 11:11

    This organization has been a poorly run one right from the beginning. The Savards attitude here was that they should be treated as if they were special. Purchased products from off island businesses. Did not listen to the fans and their concerns. Just look at yesterday, in the morning they announce a press conference to talk about "new" branded team. Two hours later they are selling the team. The left hand never knew what the right hand was doing. As far as a product on the ice, after year two they were terrible. (until this year) It is hard to get fans to come back after they have left. Savard knows nothing about being a general manager, the trades over the years were brutal. If the group of islander investors were smart they would stay clear of this investment. The only thing coming out of this is that the Savards will make money on the sale of the team.

  • Frankie
    April 17, 2013 - 10:56

    here's my thought... if there are Islanders out there with an extra 3.5 million burning a hole in their pocket, give it to charity! Hockey is not the be all and end all. The way some people talk, you'd swear the Island will sink if there isn't a hockey team in Charlottetown. I mean really folks, if they can't put the butts in the seats, they should go where they can.

  • wrenny
    April 17, 2013 - 10:50

    new rink is a must,

    • island taxpayer
      April 17, 2013 - 17:34

      Then let Danny Murphy and Tim Banks drain their secret offshore tax haven bank accounts and build it out of their own pockets. Not one more cent of public tax dollars should ever go to another bloody hockey rink on this island. They are a waste of our hard earned money. We pay taxes for public services -- police, fire, ambulance, health care, education, roads. We do not pay taxes for entertainment palaces - that is what the private sector is for. NOT ONE CENT OF TAX MONEY - DO YOU HEAR ME GHIZ & LEE & STEWART? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Island Boy
    April 17, 2013 - 10:45

    BYE,BYE SAVARDS... let us now make it a true "Island" team called either the "Abbies" or "the Islanders" and let us "split" the games between Summerside and Charlottetown. Can even work out a deal where the "Storm" plays in the other city when hockey is present in their city.

    April 17, 2013 - 10:32


  • Seeker
    April 17, 2013 - 10:32

    I bet that 3.5 m is the price an island group will need to pay but the Quebec group will get it for 3. Out of the first round one .... Pffft

  • Cory
    April 17, 2013 - 10:31

    If someone is smart they will get a Junior A team back in Charlottetown for next year. A big void will be left for junior hockey fans and a Abbies team will draw close to as good of crowds as the Rocket had with a much smaller budget. Back to the good Caps, Abbies matchups.