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WHL’s Portland Winterhawks in search of new ownership solution

Portland Winterhawks goalie Isaiah DiLaura makes a save against the Spokane Chiefs during a WHL game Jan. 3, 2020 at the Spokane Arena. The Winterhawks won 6-4. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Portland Winterhawks goalie Isaiah DiLaura makes a save against the Spokane Chiefs during a WHL game Jan. 3, 2020 at the Spokane Arena. The Winterhawks won 6-4. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

CALGARY – The Western Hockey League has confirmed that the Portland Winterhawks are heading towards a new ownership solution.

The WHL released a statement on Sunday following reports that the Winterhawks’ parent company, Portland Winterhawks Inc., reportedly filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy on Thursday, and that the major junior hockey team had been handed over to a court-appointed receiver.

The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported on Saturday that Winterhawks owner William Gallacher of Calgary allegedly failed to meet payment deadlines to a money lender, Bridging Financing – which then took control of several Gallacher’s companies, including the hockey team – following a court ruling in early May.

“The Western Hockey League is aware of the situation with regard to the current ownership of the Portland Winterhawks. The WHL is working closely with the Receiver and the Winterhawks team management to ensure the smooth transition to new ownership in short order,” the WHL said in a release.

The court-appointed receiver in charge of the team reportedly has no intentions of shutting down the organization, and the WHL says it believes a solution can be found.

“The Winterhawks leadership team of president Doug Piper, general manager and head coach Mike Johnston, and the executive staff will remain with the team and are committed to conducting business as usual for the organization,” the WHL says. “The Winterhawks are a highly successful and valuable WHL franchise, and we expect that there will be a great deal of interest in obtaining ownership of the club.”

The Canadian Hockey League, which oversees the WHL, cancelled its post-season and Memorial Cup on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Winterhawks, who play in the WHL’s U.S. Division, have been in the league since 1976-77 and have won three WHL championships, most recently in 2012-13.

Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in 2008.

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