Western Capitals hunt for new host city stuns mayor

The mayor of Summerside says he was blindsided by the Western Capitals hockey team's announcement that it plans to leave the city.

Junior A hockey team has called Summerside home for 32 years

The mayor of Summerside says he was blindsided by the Western Capitals hockey team's announcement that it plans to leave the city.

The contract between the Junior A team and the city ended last week. On Tuesday the team announced it's looking for a new host city.

Mayor Basil Stewart said Summerside has been a good friend to the team over the last 32 years and he doesn't believe the team will actually leave.

Stewart said he will leave it up to the public to decide whether the announcement was a tactic by the team's general manager Paul McIver.

"But I know that the city council are very interested continuing on with the contract and getting it tied together," said Stewart.

McIver said said the city isn't offering as much as it had in previous years. He hopes the city will talk with team representatives, but adds that the Western Capitals are already packing up and looking at other host cities.

Meanwhile, Summerside businessman David Groom said he hopes the city examines the economic impact of the hockey team during any further contract negotiations.

Groom, general manager of the Summerside Quality Inn and Brothers Two restaurant, said the team has helped boost business in the shoulder season.

"Throughout the year we do have teams coming in out of the area, staying overnight, with ourselves and other accommodations, as well as eating, as well as bringing other fans in the area, plus drawing fans from outside the area, so it would be a real shame to lose the economic spinoff here," said Groom.

McIver expects to have more news on the possible move by the end of the week.

For mobile device users: Are the Summerside Western Capitals using the announcement that they're seeking a new host city as a negotiating tactic?