Tom Petty sang about waiting being the hardest part.
Nanaimo Clippers owner Wes Mussio apparently agrees. He has had it with the wait and put his B.C. Hockey League club up for sale.
BCHL teams have not played since extended pre-season tournaments in the fall. The league, which suspended play mid-playoffs last March, has put forward a proposal to the B.C. government for a 2021 season. It has not yet heard back, even though the province on Monday OKed a return for the B.C. Division of the Western Hockey League. Thursday is when the BCHL will likely decide if its season can go ahead.
“We are still waiting for a response from the public health office. We expect it in the next couple of days, we are hoping by Wednesday, and that will lead into our board meeting Thursday because any provincial response will need board approval,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb.
“If it is something we can do, we will do it. We are really hopeful.”
Hebb said the BCHL proposal to the government is to have five pods throughout the province in which teams would play. One would be on the Island. There are five teams in the Island Division.
“It is similiar to the WHL [which is apparently proposing two pods in Kelowna and Kamloops for the B.C. Division],” said Hebb.
Meanwhile, none of this is happening fast enough for Mussio.
“With games suspended for one year now, and Dr. Bonnie Henry giving the league no indication of any starting up this year, I see no path forward to any full return to normal hockey, even in 2021-2022,” wrote Mussio, on a Facebook post.
“Time to pass the torch on the Nanaimo Clippers Junior A ice hockey team. The NDP has offered zero financial support to the suffering teams of the BCHL, or for that matter, any hope of a full return to hockey for year(s). So it is time for me to stop my huge personal and financial contribution to B.C. hockey and I will be selling the team effective immediately. Nanaimo needs an ownership group that can that can wait out the PHOs [public health officers].”
Mussio’s missive, ironically, comes as the B.C. government announced that every British Columbian will receive at least one vaccine dose by July. That means the chances for a more normal 2021-22 BCHL season just took a massive leap forward. The updated vaccine timeline, however, does little to advance the prospects for anything but a truncated and rushed 2021 season this winter or spring.
“Everyone in our league is under financial stress,” said BCHL commissioner Hebb.
“So this [Mussio’s move] did not suprise me.”
Mussio, a lawyer by trade, listed his email on his Facebook post with the stipulation of “serious enquires only” for purchase of the Clippers.