Talks are progressing in the sale of the Vernon Vipers.
After weeks of speculation, the B.C. Hockey League told The Morning Star a few minutes ago that new owners and the existing Vernon franchise owner are in negotiations.
The league says Vernon has identified a new owner and the BCHL is in the process of reviewing its franchise process.
The Morning Star reported Aug. 17 that rumours around Kal Tire Place had the Vipers being purchased by a group of out of town businessmen. The two men are believed to be owners of car dealerships and will retain the services of head coach/GM Mark Ferner, whose contract has expired with the team.
The six-time national Junior A champion Vipers lost their longtime owner Duncan Wray in January when he died in his sleep, at age 68. Wray’s widow, Libby, assumed the ownership and governor’s role.
Duncan, an oral surgeon beloved by fans, coaches and players, bought the then Vernon Lakers in 1992 from Vernon businessman Mel Lis and two years later re-named them the Vipers.
The BCHL has not announced the date for its franchise meeting with the proposed new owners. Guesses on how much the Vipers will fetch range from $750,000 to $1 million.
The Vipers face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in exhibition play tonight at the Shaw Centre. The teams meet Saturday, 6 p.m., at Kal Tire Place. Vernon opens the regular season Friday, Sept. 7 against the defending champion Wenatchee Wild.