SUN Hockey Pool

Oil to pitch for WHL team

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- The Edmonton Oilers will make their pitch for an expansion franchise to the WHL board of governors in Calgary Feb. 6, but team president Patrick LaForge has already started his.

"Edmonton is a great market," LaForge said. "It will be one of the next great WHL markets. It's got all the structure and all of the fan support you could ask for.

"The ownership group here is terrific and is committed to the marketplace in every way possible."

The Oilers have been in pursuit of a WHL franchise, be it an existing team or via expansion, for three years. The February meeting with commissioner Ron Robison and his board represents the next big push in landing a team for 2007-08.

"There's an opportunity for the franchise to service the family market," LaForge said. "It was proven by our experience with the Road Runners in the AHL that's there's a whole different segment of fans out there."

The junior circuit expanded to 21 teams with the addition of Chilliwack and has been contemplating the addition of a 22nd team.

Edmonton will be one of the front-runners - although not the only city - up for consideration if Robison and his board decide adding another franchise is the way to go.

LaForge and governor Cal Nichols will make up the Oilers' contingent for the presentation in Calgary.

"They don't plan on voting on it right then. They want to chew on it for awhile," LaForge said.

NAME THAT TEAM: Should the Oilers land an expansion team, they'll probably put a list of potential names to fans for a vote.

The Oilers have a short list of names, with one of the options being the reinstatement of the old Oil Kings handle.


Videos

Photos