Public meeting Tuesday to discuss sale of Trail Smoke Eaters to US interests

Kari Lee Campbell
By Kari Lee Campbell
October 3rd, 2016

The sale of the Trail Smoke Eaters BCHL hockey team will be a fantastic boost for the community, according to Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz. Despite the tremendous support of the Trail Smoke Eater Society, public volunteers and its staff, the future of the community-run hockey team remained uncertain, until now. The board of directors of the Trail Smoke Eaters have announced a public information session regarding the sale.

The hockey club has been for sale for over a year now, we want to keep the team in Trail and this sale makes that possible,” said Gawryletz, “The buyer’s interest is in the team, the players and investing in our community and not in making a large profit”.

He said the team simply could not continue to financially support itself much longer and an influx of capital was desperately needed.

With this sale, we can look forward to immediate upgrades, more staffing and a brighter future,” Gawryletz said. “The coaching staff will remain intact and the Trail Smoke Eater Society will continue their involvement with the team in partnership with the new owner. The expectation is that it will be a smooth transaction with the hopes of finalizing the sale for Nov. 1.”

Although many people are anticipating that the buyer’s identity will be revealed at the meeting, Gawryletz said it will not become public until the sale is finalized. The buyer is located in Minnesota, and therefore will not be attending the public session.

This will not be a disclosure meeting, the intent is to provide information, explain our decision and why we have moved in this direction,” said Gawryletz. “We would not have moved in this direction if we didn’t feel it is a positive move for the team and for the city.”

The Trail Smoke Eaters have been a huge part of the community since the 1920s as both senior and junior teams. The senior team won two Ice Hockey World Championships, one in 1939 and the other in 1961, and were the last independent hockey team to represent the nation in international competition. In 2015, the Trail Smoke Eaters 1937-38 jersey was featured on the cover of The Hockey News as part of their top 100 jerseys of all time. The team’s alumni list includes several players who moved on to become professional hockey players in the National Hockey League and world wide.

The Smoke Eaters public information session will be held Oct.4 at 7 p.m. in the Trail Memorial Centre’s Red Room. Local area residents are encouraged to attend this meeting for more information.

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