Acadie-Bathurst Titan back with ex-owner
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan hockey team is back in the hands of Léo-Guy Morrissette.
Morrissette, who turned over ownership of the northern New Brunswick junior team to his adult children last year when he retired, announced this week he's back in the game.
But he will have some serious stick-handling to do, said Peter Assaff, a sports reporter who has covered the Titan for the Northern Light newspaper since the team came to Bathurst 12 years ago.
The Titan have the lowest attendance in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league.
Last season, under the ownership of Morrissette's son Stéphane and daughter Annie, attendance per game dropped by more than 300 fans.
"As a business person, Mr. Morrissette is going to have to make the decision that if the team is going to stay in Bathurst and have a long-term future here, what is it going to take to make it financially viable? And to do that, he's gotta draw more fans into the building," said Assaff.
Morrissette said he's committed to keeping the team in Bathurst for years to come and plans to change the way the franchise operates.
Last year, Morrissette had been looking to relocate or sell the team due to poor attendance and sagging revenues.
After entertaining offers from St. John's and a group of Bathurst-area investors, he announced in March 2009 he was selling the franchise to his children.
This week, Morrissette's children released a short statement saying they had decided to relinquish 100 per cent ownership of the team to a company owned by their father, effective immediately.
They thanked "all who offered their support to the organization in the past year: corporate sponsors and business leaders, season ticket-holders and fans, employees and volunteers, media outlets and all who assisted from near or far to the organization's performance."
The Titan finished fifth in the Atlantic Division of the regular 2009-10 season with a 25-37-3-3 record.