Plymouth Whalers exec: Too soon to speculate if team is moving


PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Despite news of a planned Compuware Arena sale, Plymouth Whalers Governor Mike Vellucci said it is "too soon to speculate" if the team will be relocating.

Vellucci was quoted in a statement released by the team on Friday.

"The arena transaction is still in its early stages and therefore it is too soon to speculate if the Whalers will be relocating in the future or about any potential relocation cities," he said. "Currently we are in the stage of simply identifying available and viable markets should we need to relocate the Whalers in the future. As part of the process, we intend to explore all options and work with the Ontario Hockey League, which will be required to approve any potential relocation."

Whalers owner Peter Karmanos said over the summer that moving the team is a possibility. He's not happy with attendance at Compuware Arena.

His words are resonating even louder after a November news release from USA Hockey which said it could acquire the arena by the first half of 2015. USA Hockey wants to relocate its National Team Development Program to Compuware Arena. The program currently is based at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

The Whalers have played at the arena on Beck Road in Plymouth Township since 1997. Karmanos had the arena built for the team in 1996. It seats between 3,500 and 4,500 depending on the event. There are two sheets of ice in the complex -- an NHL-size rink and an Olympic-size rink.

Even if the Whalers leave the arena behind, Vellucci said the Compuware youth program would remain there and continue to be supported by Karmanos.

"Make no mistake, Peter Karmanos, who for the last 30 years has been one of junior hockey's strongest supporters, remains committed to the Whalers' organization," said Vellucci.

Vellucci is the former long-serving coach and general manager of the Whalers. Last season was his last in those positions. He's now assistant GM and director of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes, another team owned by Karmanos.

About the Author: