Rocket leaving Prince Edward Island if not bought by April 26: reports

Charles Reid
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RDS reporting Savards have given deadline to local investors

The QMJHL's P.E.I. Rocket hockey club was set to reveal its new logo for its rebirth as the P.E.I. Islanders next season. That news conference has been cancelled and French media RDS is reporting the Rocket may be heading to Sorel, Que.

On Tuesday, the P.E.I. Rocket sent an e-mail to local media about a "significant announcement" for Wednesday.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey team had sent an e-mail earlier this week announcing it would reveal its new logo and colours on Thursday in Charlottetown.

A new name, the P.E.I. Islanders, was chosen by the fans in a contest last fall.

The first e-mail sent by Trent Birt, Rocket vice-president of operations, arrived at the Guardian on Monday at 5:09 p.m.

Then a second e-mail arrived Tuesday at 12:55 p.m., also from Birt, altering the first e-mail.

Here is the content of the first e-mail message received Monday: 

Good afternoon,

Thursday, April 18, at 10:30 am, The PEI Rocket will be holding a press conference at the Charlottetown Civic Centre, in Meeting Room #1 (upstairs). At this time, we will be launching our new PEI Islanders name and logo, providing an overview of our 2012-13 season with some insight on our 2013-14 season, and giving details on our 2013-14 Season Ticket campaign.

And here is the second message on Tuesday:

Good afternoon,

The PEI Rocket is holding a press conference with a significant announcement tomorrow (Wednesday), at 10:30, in Meeting Room 1, at the Charlottetown Civic Centre. The announcement does not include any rebranding information. As a matter of fact, Thursday’s scheduled press conference has been postponed. 

RDS, the French language version of TSN, is reporting Serge Savard and Serge Savard Jr., who own the Rocket, have given a group of unnamed local investors until April 26 to buy the team or it will be sold to a group headed by current NHLers François Beauchemin and Marc-Andre Fleury, and former pro Marc Denis. 

That group would move the team to Sorel, Que.

Rumours of the team moving or being sold and then moved have swirled around it for years, talk spurred on by dwindling attendance and lack of playoff success.

This season, the Rocket won a franchise-record 41 games, reached the playoffs after a year's absence and posted two players with 100-plus points.

Lower Sackville, N.S., native Ben Duffy, a five-year player with the Rocket, led the league in scoring and assists with 110 and 71, respectively, while Josh Currie, Charlottetown native and team captain, finished third overall with 104 points and led the league in shorthanded goals (10).

P.E.I. lost to Val-d'Or in six games in the teams best-of-seven first round matchup. 

Organizations: Charlottetown Civic Centre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Quebec, Sorel, Que Lower Sackville Val-d'Or

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Recent comments

  • Long Time Season Ticket Holder
    April 18, 2013 - 10:59

    It is actually quite discouraging to see all of the negative, childish, peevish and inane comments which have been posted regarding this story. Maybe it's a reflection on the Island and Islanders that this can be used to attack the Premier, the HST, ferment Summerside-Charlottetown hatred etc. All quite peripheral issues that those who sit by their computers seem to raise on just about every issue. The fact remains that Major Junior Hockey, the Canadian Hockey League, is one of the best , if not the best Junior Hockey League in the world. We are and have been priviliged to have the opportunity to see it for the past decade. I can see why the Savards would be pulling out; we have not as a community or a province supported this venture ( I can hear the blame casters warming up their computers even now, saying how it's all someone else's fault). It would be wonderful if someone could purchase the team and make it run. I fear that they would face the same barrage of negative comments that the Savards have but maybe, if we as a community were to indicate a level of support they would come forward. How about someone more computer literate than me setting up a Facebook page or whatever other social media tools there are and see how many people would COMMIT to buying season tickets for next year. It's worth a try. If we blow this one, we will not see this calibre of hockey in our community or province again.

  • Billy
    April 17, 2013 - 19:01

    Contact his highness Basil! He can throw good money after bad like NOBODY else !

  • To RealityCheck
    April 17, 2013 - 11:57

    Without having numbers for every team, 1,500 is generally at the high end of attendance numbers in Canadian Jr. A. Considering Summerside is probably about an average-sized Jr. A market, that's good. It's about the same as the actual bums in seats that the Rocket get, or maybe slightly lower. I don't think there's any doubt Q hockey could work in Summerside, although I wouldn't like to see the Caps be infringed on the way the Abbies were.

  • wade
    April 17, 2013 - 10:00

    Honestly, it got expensive going to watch a junior team. When the team name change was announced it was the death of the team, it was inevitable.

  • smart kids don't support hockey
    April 17, 2013 - 08:43

    The whole notion that hockey is some grand unifying myth of Canadian society is fraying at the edges. Bright youth couldn't care less about it as a cultural product, whether they leave PEI or stay. There is a niche market here, and the niche is shrinking.

  • Good News
    April 17, 2013 - 06:44

    Hey everyone ..... dont get so down. This is a good new story. Maybe now someone will buy the team with some hockey experience. Brad Richards maybe ? Good comment regarding the HST ..... lol. Dont think I ever saw Wes or RG at any games ? Its all their fault I guess.

    • Actually...
      April 17, 2013 - 12:26

      Ghiz was in a luxuary box beside me for Game 6 this year with his family. Think they left before the 3rd OT though...

  • Mike
    April 17, 2013 - 00:14

    What happens to the money owed to us season ticket holders for playoff tickets Pre purchased ?? Are we to get screwed after years of support??

  • Jo Shmoe
    April 17, 2013 - 00:07

    After being in attendance at a Halifax Moosehead playoff game, I certainly understand why this team could not, and never would compete in the Q (financially, and competitively). Too bad though, it made good entertainment for the kids... Here's hoping coach Dwyer lands on his feet and ends up somewhere beneficial to his career. Top notch coach, and quality guy!

  • Henry Sow
    April 16, 2013 - 21:23

    Does it really matter? We are like Montreal fans that don't support a losing team. If they go its because of us, the fans!

  • No wonder
    April 16, 2013 - 21:06

    If the islanders would have gone to a game and stayed!!!! My cousin and I went to every game and we are not from here. People would get up and leave with time still left to play. It would be a shame if they leave but PEI does not deserve a Team

  • Islanders
    April 16, 2013 - 21:04

    What a dupe by Savard, Birt and co. "We are here to stay"..."We are committed to being on the Island". They screwed the Island people out of a junior team in Summerside and then turn around and pull out. Meanwhile the whole time, with the exception of the first year, they've never iced a team past the first round of the playoffs. This is a crock and stinks and huge shame on Birt and Savard.

  • Let's Hope
    April 16, 2013 - 20:30

    It would be a huge blow to PEI's hockey scene if this team left! Let's hope the local investor's can pull through the bid to buy the Rocket/Islanders and rally the province behind a successful and winning Major Jr Hockey team!!!

  • captain canuck
    April 16, 2013 - 20:28

    Didn't we get plenty of "The Rocket is here to stay" talk? What spinarama are they going to put on that?

  • Cornwall Dude
    April 16, 2013 - 19:39

    Not surprised. It's been 10 years. The normal rotation for a team like this. The PEI Senators came and went. Something else will come along in a year or two. Go see UPEI Panther hockey. Pretty good stuff.

  • grapes
    April 16, 2013 - 19:08

    This sucks, All tho the Rocket did not have a lot of luck with its scouting,the team became a failure,also take into account we seen some great hockey talent come and play from other teams,this is a long list of players that play in the NHL that now have a large impact ,so to the people that did not go support this team you were missing out, and if this team leaves,there will be no chance of another team coming here. The rink at the civi center was not a ideal place to watch a game. With the rite owner and rink this is a big money maker,

  • Aaron Jarvis
    April 16, 2013 - 19:07


  • summerside
    April 16, 2013 - 18:49

    they would do a lot better if they were in summerside and the caps went west. summerside may be smaller but it's a bigger hockey town

    • realitycheck
      April 17, 2013 - 08:59

      Bigger hockey town.....guess that's why a first-rate team like the Caps are drawing 1,500 in a rink that holds 4,500....where are all those fans who packed the CUP when it first opened?

    • realitycheck
      April 17, 2013 - 13:25

      They why didn't they build a new rink in Summerside to suit what they would draw? The original plans for the CUP was a 2,000 seat arena.....but King Basil changed that to a bigger arena and cost the city more money. Also who is going to go to a Q team in Summerside? People from Tignish and Alberton? I think not...they're quite content with LOCAL guys on their Junior B & C teams. And where is the big corporate support going to come from? Companies in Ch'town are not going to back a S'side team if they don't have some thing in the town already and forget about drawing people from East of Ch'town as well. Too many empty stores and dwindling pop. to make Major Jr a go in S'side....accept that along with the fact you have a white elephant of a building up there as nice as it is.....the shine is off.

  • Aurevoir Serge
    April 16, 2013 - 18:00

    I think i made a comment like this story in a article and i was told i was wrong.... I heard Savard if sells the team to ------------- he will be starting a new rocket team in quebec. An that is why the name change... Believe me! Its going to be true! Regardless if ive ever seen a game.

  • Seeker
    April 16, 2013 - 17:42

    Out of the first round once... It's not rocket science that something had to happen. There is only 2 people to blame for it, jr & sr... Neither know how to build a successful jr team. Hope they stay local but I'm sure the savards will favour a Quebec based buyer.

  • jamieson
    April 16, 2013 - 17:09

    I am not surprised either. There is no appetite for, nor an ability to, support professional or semi-professional sports teams in such a small market. Especially when so many young people -- your prime market demographic -- are leaving for places like Alberta for work. The NBL's Summerside Storm will likely not return after this year. The QMJHL's PEI Rocket / PEI Islanders will likely be gone too, just as the AHL's PEI Senators only lasted a few years. These events are no reflection on the facilities. It is 100% the lack of market. You could plonk a huge rink like the Air Canada Centre or the Molson Centre right in the middle of PEI and it would still not matter one bit. Retirees on limited incomes are not going to patronize professional sports. And young people are no longer staying around PEI and are heading away for work. So good luck to any sucker wanting to take on a pro sports team in this place.

  • Hockey Guy
    April 16, 2013 - 16:57

    Hang tight!. There will be an announcement of new Charlottetown based ownership shortly.

  • Nic
    April 16, 2013 - 16:56

    Could Prince Edward buy the team and keep it in Charlottetown? "Go, Prince Edwards Prince Edward Island Islanders, Go"

  • HST
    April 16, 2013 - 16:47

    The HST is going to ruin this province.

  • Allen
    April 16, 2013 - 16:45

    This issue does not concern me. Hockey is for people that have lost a sense of self-spirit. Do something productive and/or creative.

    • CFA
      April 17, 2013 - 08:52

      Allen you are a complete and utter idiot. NOTHING brings strangers together more then cheering for a sports team whether it be hockey, baseball, basketball, football or any other sport. Keep your asinine comments to yourself and take your own advice and do something "productive and creative"

  • rob
    April 16, 2013 - 16:26

    agreed, made that comment before it was fully updated, when it was just about the press announcement. pathetic they are selling, spineless.

  • Smith
    April 16, 2013 - 16:24

    That's a shame. Maybe had they put an acceptable product on the ice people would have shown up. Don't know how markets smaller than Charlottetown draw 3 times as well while we can't hold down a team for more than a decade. Guess it's time for the APM Junior Abbies to come out of retirement.

  • M.J.
    April 16, 2013 - 15:34

    This is not surprising... There will be no Islanders or Rockets next season...

  • anon
    April 16, 2013 - 15:20

    I think you missed the point of this news story, Rob.

  • moe
    April 16, 2013 - 15:16

    I hope they don't leave. I can't wait to go to a game and chant " Go Prince Edward Island Islanders Go" " Go Prince Edward Island Islanders Go"

  • rob
    April 16, 2013 - 15:09

    the fans didn't choose the name, the "contest" was down to the islander idea, Prince Edward Island Islanders was chosen backroom, and still sounds dumb to me. Young Islanders, or just The Islanders. the only way they make this better is to use the orange jerseys of the NHL NY Islanders.

    • james collicutt
      April 17, 2013 - 15:58

      starbreeze456 i said 2 years ago that they woulld pull out like the senators did leaving owing a big bunch of money but everybody laughed at that guess who has the last laugh after all