John Glen used to volunteer serving beer for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Now, he and his brother, Tom, are the new owners of the B.C. Hockey League Vernon Vipers.
“I wore every hat for seven years with Spruce Grove,” chuckled Glen, of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. “I was in the inner circle.”
The Glen brothers own a cross-section of car dealerships across the country with three each in Vancouver and Calgary. They bought the Vipers from Libby Wray after lengthy negotiations. The price tag was not disclosed.
The club was purchased by Dr. Duncan Wray in 1992 and was owned until his sudden death on Jan. 11.
“This was an extremely tough decision,” said Wray, in a statement released by the Vipers. “This club was something my husband was very passionate about and we wanted to make the right decision going forward. The Glens will be excellent owners and very committed to the City of Vernon and the legacy which Duncan created. I truly believe the club is in great hands.”
“We would like to extend our thanks and sincere appreciation to the Wray family for making this opportunity possible and for their dedication to the BCHL and the Vernon Vipers over the past 26 years,” said the Glen brothers, in a statement.
“We are thrilled to become part of the Vernon Vipers legacy and look forward to being involved in the community of Vernon and with the loyal sponsors, fans and supporters. As a hockey family ourselves we are very excited for the ‘18-19 season and for many successful seasons to follow.”
John, who was born into a Regina farming family, is a father of two. His son, David, 27, spent three seasons with the Saints before securing an NCAA scholarship. John has another son, Michael.
John was a big part of the Saints when they visited Vernon for back-to-back Doyle Cup (Western Canadian championship) series in 2010 and 2011. The Vipers won both series in seven games.
“When we came out for the Doyle Cup, I thought ‘What a great Junior A market this is: it was a really amazing experience.’ The fan support was off the charts. When the opportunity came up to buy one of the jewels of the BCHL, it was a no-brainer.”
Glen is a hands-on owner and plans to buy a place in Vernon to oversee the operation. His brother, who lives in Regina, will make regular visits to Kal Tire Place.
As for the Vipers staff, Glenn said head coach/GM Mark Ferner and his assistants, along with office personnel, are being retained.
“We’ll bring an HR (Human Resources) girl out next week and everybody will be status quo.”
Ferner met with Glen today at Viper practice.
“I’ve talked to him a couple of times,” said Ferner. “He was at our last exhibition game but he kept a low profile. I’m just worried about the hockey club although it’s (contract) is always in the back of your mind. We’ll see.”
A former area scout for 11 years with the Western League Vancouver Giants, Glen played some minor hockey in Regina and “had a cup of coffee with the Weyburn Red Wings.”
Under Duncan Wray, the Vipers won four national championships.
The Vipers open the BCHL regular season tonight as they host the Wenatchee Wild (7 p.m.) at Kal Tire Place.
The Kal Tire Place box office opens at 10 a.m. and tickets can also be reserved by phone by calling 250-542-6022.