Saturday, August 18, 2018

Vipers’ Sale Rumours Heat Up:

This is posted on the Morning Star website:

Vipers’ sale rumours heat up

Ferner goes into camp without a contract 

Kevin Mitchell

Aug. 17, 2018 


While strong rumours persist that the Vernon Vipers are about to be sold, Mark Ferner heads to main training camp Monday morning without a contract but ready to start picking his team.

The six-time national Junior A champion Vipers lost their longtime owner Duncan Wray in January when he died in his sleep, at age 68. Wray’s widow, Libby, assumed the ownership and governor’s role. Libby is attending her daughter Erika’s wedding this weekend on Vancouver Island.

Ferner, head coach and director of player personnel, says the uncertainty is hurting his recruiting and the image of the franchise. Speculation around town is that a group of businessmen from out of town has made an offer to purchase the team.

“I don’t know if it’s for sale or not and nobody (coaches and staff) has a contract,” said Ferner. “I’ll be trying to put the best team on the ice but it’s tough because of the uncertainty of the hockey team. I know the Wray family owns the team now, but are they selling? The league says the coaches have to have a contract.”

Deemed one of the best coaches in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League, Ferner has long used his contacts across North America to land top-end talent. The Penticton Vees annually battle the Vipers for some of the same recruits.

“I’ll be at the rink Monday and we’ll take it from there,” said Ferner, unsure if assistant coaches Kevin Kraus or Kevin Pedersen will return because of the turmoil.

Ferner has invited 52 players with the goalie session officially jumpstarting camp at 9:30 a.m. Hour-long defence and forward drills follow with Team Red holding practice from 4-5 p.m. and Team Gold facing Team Blue in a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage.

“We have some solid recruits coming in and they better be good,” said Ferner. “They can come to camp, but they have to work hard and make our hockey club.”

Team Red and Blue will attend an education seminar Tuesday at 9 a.m. while Team Gold practises. Team Red battles Team Blue at 10:30 with Team Gold in class at the same time.

There will be three scrimmages Wednesday starting with Gold vs Blue at 8 a.m.

Camp ends Thursday with morning practices and a Blue-White scrimmage at 6 p.m., followed by exit meetings with the coaches.

The Vipers open the exhibition schedule next Friday in Merritt against the Centennials. Vernon entertains Merritt Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Snakes visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday, Aug. 31 and host the Gorillas the next night.

Vernon opens the regular season Friday, Sept. 7 against the defending league champion Wenatchee Wild.

Meanwhile, Hockey Canada has named Surrey Eagles head coach Brandon West and Merritt Centennials head coach Joe Martin as assistants with Team Canada West for the 2018 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC).

The event goes Dec. 9-15 at the R.J. Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville, Alta. The team’s head coach will be Rick Swan (Bonnyville Pontiacs, AJHL) who was an assistant on the 2017 squad under Mike Reagan. Martin, who was also an assistant along with Swan last year, and West will both play key roles in Team Canada West’s effort to repeat as gold medalists.


Anonymous said...

Please don't take this the wrong way Diehard but when you have a owner running a team only because of sentimentality it can be understood as someone who wishes to carry on the legacy of her departed husband Duncan Wray. That is fine but when it starts to impact the coaches,future players wishing to play in vernon and other factors one has to question that perhaps the Vernon Vipers should be run and owned by people with a hockey background. If this is the start of the Wrays decision making with the coaches not having signed contracts, a lack of communicating with the league and comments with the press, such as quote NO COMMENT. As fans I think one has too worry about do we have the team in the right hands with what would appear as limited hockey sense. That being said maybe the Wray family should buck up and tell us the real truth as to what is going on rather than NO COMMENT. Signed disappointed Fan and also I think leaving a blemish on the fine history that Duncan Wray had in running the VERNON VIPERS.

Anonymous said...

I have heard from a reliable source that the team has been sold and an announcement will be made in September. I am saddened but feel it is a good time. We lost an amazing owner but the rest of the Wray family does not have the same passion Duncan had for his team, the league or his players. It is time to move on with new owners.

If new ownership does happen I hope they look at the team and make a few necessary changes. The coaching staff does a wonderful job but the office staff is sadly lacking. As successful as the Vipers have been they have been brutal in their consideration of their fans. They expect us to jump on the Viper bandwagon once the puck is dropped but do nothing to keep us interested once the year is complete. A smart business will always stay in its customers sight. This should be easy as they already have a data base of season ticket holders & advertisers. It is not too much to ask to hear some news about player signings, returning players, trades or about a scouting trip like other teams do. The Vipers are a privately owned business, not a community owned team or a charity. Stop asking other businesses to help and start marketing themselves. Visiting other arenas it is clear that other teams try a lot harder than the Vipers and seem to appreciate their loyal fans. Let's start with some new ideas to draw fans instead of relying on the same old promos they have used for the past 20 years. It is no wonder the fan base has been declining the past few years. Bring on new ownership and some new ideas.

Anonymous said...

Because Ferner and the assistants don't have contracts yet, I feel that the team must be on the verge of being sold. It looks like an indicator. I would hope the new owners keep Ferner and the assistants, with the recruiting being done and the season about to start. The Wrays needed to decide to sell or keep the team long ago.

If there are new owners, I pray, seriously pray, that the new owners don't meet Ferner and introduce themselves and say "and this is Billy, my son. He's gonna be the starting goalie. He did real good in Midget House last season. He hasn't been on skates since February, but he'll catch up." We don't need any of that nepotism stuff. Remember what happened to Salmon Arm. Their attendance still hasn't recovered.

The ownership and contracts issues need to be decided ASAP. If you were a kid coming to play for Ferner, would you sign a card not knowing if Ferner was going to still be the coach next week? Will the team suddenly become one of the pay-to-play teams?

Ferner has been as he always has been. A real gentleman. He doesn't deserve to be left hanging like this.

Anonymous said...

No contracts for any of the Viper staff? A bizarre situation, for sure. Duncan would never allow his people to hang that long with uncertainty. He was all about loyalty, respect and doing what is right, especially regarding the kids. What do the players & parents of the new prospects think about this situation? Why would they commit to a program with so many question marks? Considering all this I think it is clear that the Wray's have sold the team & they will be letting the new owners deal with coaching and management decisions & all contracts. For the kid's sake make the announcement now and sign the coaching staff so they can build their team. The decisions on the remainder of staff can be put off for a bit. My opinion is that we need Mark & the Kevins back.

vipersdiehardfan said...

This doesn't sound good. When the Vipers season ended in March I wondered what was going to happen with the future of this team. Would the Wrays keep the team or sell it? Im sure most Viper fans were thinking the same thing. The first week of June at an Duncan Wray's daughter said her mom was carrying on ownership and will be the new owner. If you weren't paying attention you would have missed it because they didn't make a big announcement. Why didn't they hold a press conference and let everybody know? In July is when the rumors started coming out of the woodshed about the team for sale/being sold. In early July I heard from a reliable source the Vipers had two different groups interested in buying the Vipers and both groups were going to make offers. Towards the end of July is when I heard from a second reliable source saying the Vipers were sold to a businessman from Calgary. I also heard other rumors about the team being sold.

On Tuesday Libby Wray contacted the radio station downplaying the rumors about the team for sale/being sold, but said she had no comment on the issue. You don't think this stirred up the pot even more? She didn't say they were keeping the team, nor did she say the team was for sale/sold. So why even come out and make a statement like this? I don't get it. You think if they were still keeping the team, they would put a stop to all these rumors and hold a press conference. Does this mean the team is for sale or has been sold? If that's the case, the season starts Monday, what's the hold up with announcing the new ownership? Why are we keeping everyone in the dark? You would think if the team was for sale, they would want to sell the team before the start of a new season. Im sure the new owners would like to look at the books and what their getting into and make some changes way before the season starts. Why is Mark Ferner & the coaching staff along with the remainder of the Vipers staff left with no contract & in the dark of not knowing whats going on, just days before training camp? I don't get it.

Whoever is running the team once the season starts, the Vipers need some proper marketing in place. The Vipers poor marketing and PR has been very poor the last twenty plus years. Since 1995 other then changing the name, jerseys & team colors every few years, nothing has changed with the Vipers on or off the ice. The same promo's/skits are done through out the games year after year. The same crappy gift giveaway's are handed out now and again and the same old outdated music is still being played at home games. Who plays the beatles or elvis Presley at a hockey game? The website is outdated, rarely updated unless a trade happens, still has outdated photos and adds on the site from two-three years ago. Since Mike Vandekamp & Troy Mick have left, the Vipers have left their fans in the dark through out the summer months with very little to no news regarding the team. We have no idea who's returning from last year, we haven't heard a word on any new commitments/player signings for this season. During training camp why cant the team tell us who's been cut/or released. You dont think most fans take home the lineup sheets and are wondering whos left and whos gone? When Mick & Vandekamp were in charge they use to keep the fans informed no matter what time of year it was. Take a look at other teams. Most if not all the other teams have been giving press releases over the summer regarding player signings/new committed players, updates on the team, keeping their fans informed. Take a look at what the Penticton Vees do over the summer. The team holds a press conference inside the arena where fans are encouraged to come out and see the press conference with a new player commitment. All media and fans are allowed to ask questions and meet the newest Vee. I read online they get close to 500 fans out to these. That's incredible. As a diehard fan it's frustrating.

Anonymous said...

With that being said you are 100% correct

Anonymous said...

Does everyone already forget the first time Ferner bailed on the team at the last minute before the season started? This just reeks of a snakey guy setting himself up f*** off elsewhere without being called a quitter and looking like the bad guy. The article didnt say hes not getting paid did it?? Like he doesn't know what's going on.