Juniors return to Edmonton

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Most of the news lately has been about a player leaving Edmonton, but yesterday it shifted for a moment to the busload of players on their way here.

The Western Hockey League made it official in a media conference at Rexall Place - Edmonton is in. The yet-to-be named franchise will begin play in 2007-08.

"For many of you, this is long overdue," said WHL president Ron Robison.

The WHL tried setting roots in Edmonton before, but failed miserably, ending with the Edmonton Ice's move to Kootenay. Back then, they were the Oilers' competition. This time, they're owned by the Edmonton Investors Group and run by the Oilers. That's why all concerned are certain it'll work.

"Arguably the Oilers have a large control over the hockey and sports entertainment market in this community," said Robison. "In order to make it work I've been on the record as saying we had to re-enter the market with their full endorsement, or, ideally, their ownership of the team. So there's more confidence than there was in the previous experience here."

Oilers GM Kevin Lowe will head up hockey operations. He'll pick the team's GM, who, in turn, will select his coaching staff and scouts.

"We learned a lot two years ago about having a second team in this market with the AHL," said Investor's Group chairman Cal Nichols. "We were tempted to carry on with that, but soon concluded that the right mix was a junior team with the NHL team."

LATE HITS: Tickets will start at $10 and seating will be limited to the lower bowl (capacity 6,500) at Rexall ... The name will be selected in fan contest... On the web: www.edmontonwhl.com.


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