The Surrey Eagles now have just one owner in the nest.
Chuck Westgard, who has been the team’s majority owner and chief spokesperson since a group led by him bought the BC Hockey League team four years ago, is now the team’s sole owner.
Westgard has bought out his remaining partners – including former NHL defenceman Gary Nylund and Boston Bruins’ director of player personnel Scott Bradley – the team announced Tuesday.
The trio, all childhood friends from Delta, bought the team from Ronnie Paterson and Ralph Berezan in 2010, along with a handful of silent partners.
It was also announced that Westgard has hired a sports management company to take over the day-to-day operations of the club.
“Our vision is for the Surrey Eagles to be champions on the ice as well as champions in the community, and it’s clear that change needed to come to our organization,” Westgard said in a news release. “Our plan going forward is for the Eagles to place renewed emphasis on community engagement and involvement, and that focus on the community will stretch to our roster, too.”
The release also noted there will be a renewed increase in building the Junior ‘A’ team’s roster with local talent.
The day-to-day operations of the club won’t change much, said Chris Wahl, Eagles’ director of media relations.
With the changes, longtime business manager Sharon Anderson is now listed as the team’s chief financial officer, and Blaine Neufeld has been adding as the director of hockey operations. More information regarding the team’s new structure “will be made public in the coming weeks,” the release states.
“It’s just an expanded group, which gives us a lot more knowledge, and more resources, to improve from a business and community standpoint,” Wahl said.
When asked if Peter Schaefer – who held the triple title of head coach/general manager/president last season – was still part of the revamped front office, Wahl initially said “for the moment” before clarifying that the second-year head coach and his staff were all expected to be back for the 2014/15 season.
Westgard said he also expects Schaefer to return.
“Everybody’s adjusting to this little bit of change, but he’s got a year left on his contract, so it’s full steam ahead as far as we’re concerned,” he said.
Westgard will take the president title back from Schaefer, leaving the former NHLer to run the hockey side of the business, along with Neufeld.
Westgard will focus on the business end of the operation.
“I’m going to be more involved. To keep the Eagles on the ice, we need to tighten things up.”