Hotchkiss stepping down as Flames owner

Harley Hotchkiss is stepping down as an owner of the Flames. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency file photo)

Harley Hotchkiss is stepping down as an owner of the Flames. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency file photo)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 PM ET

Sad news for Flames fans as Harley Hotchkiss is stepping down as an owner of the Calgary Flames.

Hotchkiss, who is quietly battling some health challenges, will have his 22 percent stake in the team transferred internally once the move is rubber stamped at this week’s board of governor meetings.

Flames president Ken King declined comment on the sale - or which partner or partners would purchase the shares - saying only that dealings at the board of governors meetings in Palm Beach Fla. are strictly confidential.

However, a leaked copy of the board of governors’ agenda confirms the club’s partnership buying Hotchkiss’ shares will be discussed.

The 83-year-old philanthropist and oil and gas magnate was one six men who brought the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and has since gone about serving the team and the game so admirably he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2006.

Byron Seaman will be the only original owner still involved with the club once Hotchkiss’ shares are sold.

Having served with the Marines in the Second World War, Hotchkiss is as decorated and humble a Calgarian as the city has ever seen. He’s a Companion of the Order of Canada and Member of the Alberta Order of Excellence who also spearheaded an SOS campaign a decade ago to keep the Flames in Calgary.

As a businessman, team owner, longtime NHL chairman of the board, humanitarian and family man the classy “farm boy” from Tillsonburg, Ont. has succeeded at most everything he’s done. Here’s hoping he’ll continue battling his health issues every bit as admirably and effectively.

Fehr in the air

Things seem to be crawling at a snail’s pace at the NHLPA offices once again but insiders insist all is well and Donald Fehr will be anointed Executive Director as early as next week.

One of the NHLPA’s most vocal members, Robyn Regehr, says several teams – like Calgary – have still yet to vote on the hiring of the former head of the MLB players association.

Regehr denied rumours Fehr is looking for 100% of the union members to vote him in, instead suggesting Fehr is seeking a “strong majority”

“He’s said that in the past if he doesn’t get a strong majority he would walk away,” said Regehr, adding that such a percentage is subject to Fehr’s interpretation.

The lengthy hiring process was first delayed by two things: Fehr wanted to meet with all 30 teams before a vote; and the union had to vote on proposed changes to their constitution. Now it’s time to vote on Fehr.

“We’ve swung in a direction where we went from an executive committee having all the power with the executive director to dividing it amongst to many people, which is what happened with (the hiring of) Ted Saskin. Now we’re trying to find a sweet spot,” said Regehr of changes made by the NHLPA’s constitution committee, with outside help including that of Fehr.

“We talked to him about compensation at length and those are some of the question we had from players, but that’s all over and done with.”

Notes and quotes

Big question out west is whether Phaneuf will be ready to return before his club plays in Calgary Dec. 16 – his first trip back since the trade. He told me this morning he didn’t know but was still on track to return in “seven to 10 days.” The boo-birds in Calgary hope he makes a speedy recovery … Brian Burke has rarely met a microphone he didn’t like. However, the Leafs GM has had enough and has decided he won’t speak to CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada due to growing frustration over ongoing criticism leveled at his coach, himself and his organization … Nice work by Glenn Healy pointing out the entire Leafs lineup has scored 556 career goals. To put that into perspective Mark Recchi has 558 goals all by himself … Marc Savard confirmed with Elliotte Friedman he did indeed agree to waive his no-trade clause to go to Ottawa or Toronto this past summer.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

- Eric Francis appears regularly as a panelist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada


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