The P.E.I. Rocket is not on the move, contrary to rumours circulating on Twitter, said team president and governor Serge Savard Jr.
The report had the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team being sold and moved to Sorel-Tracy in southwest Quebec. The report originated in Quebec.
“They can write whatever they want. The Rocket is here to make it work in P.E.I.,” Savard told The Guardian Sunday night. “If it was sold, I would just go out in public and say it. Why would I hide?”
Savard said he has been battling rumours the team was moving or sold for years.
Asked by The Guardian if there were any recent talks about moving the team or if people were calling asking to buy the team that could have led to the rumour, Savard said: “No, zero. I don’t know who gets these things (started).”
Savard has heard there is a group interested in putting a team in the Sorel-Tracy area.
It is the second time since Christmas rumours had the Rocket packing up and moving to Quebec. The last time it was for Trois-Rivieres.
A report in the Le Nouvelliste newspaper today said the Shawinigan Cataracts used its veto to block Réal Breton, Bob Hartley, Geoff Molson and their other partners from putting a team in Trois-Rivieres.
Rumours began again recently with officials trying to bring the QMJHL back to Sorel, where the city has agreed to renovate the Colisée.
The rumours had the Rocket being mentioned as the club changing hands.
“We are not salesmen,” Savard told Le Nouvelliste.
“I can swear to you that we never spoke to people about Three-Rivers or Sorel,” he added. “The only group with which we spoke a few years ago, it was that of Jocelyn Thibault, who had called us. If we were interested to sell, there would have been transaction. But no, our priority is and always was that hockey junior functions in Charlottetown.”
Savard told the French newspaper he has an idea why the Rocket is always the team mentioned for relocation.
“(People) can look at the summaries and see where crowd is (lower).”
He added attendance has been better since Christmas and the team had its best crowd in several years Sunday when 2,700 people attended the game against the Halifax Mooseheads.
The team is also rebranding itself with a new name and colours for the 2013-14 season.
Another team that has had low attendance is the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Owner Léo-Guy Morrissette said the region has lost thousands of jobs in recent years.
“It is not easy, but it is here that I want to make hockey,” he told Le Nouvelliste. “Titan is in Bathurst to remain there.”
Morrissette said he has not had discussions with the Sorel promoters, nor has he heard from Réal Breton.
He recognizes the financial results of the past years were written with red ink.
Morrissette brought together his partners Friday for a meeting with league president Gilles Courteau and New Brunswick Premier David Alward.
“The common goal is to keep the team with Bathurst,” he said.