Road trips might have just got cheaper for the Coquitlam Express — that is, if the team’s new owner gives them a discount on accommodations.
The BC Hockey League team has a new owner, hotelier Fayaz Manji.
Manji’s First Canadian Management Corp. owns several several hotels — including some in the Ramada, Super 8, Days Inn and Choice chains — in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. He’s also an avid ball hockey player and coach.
“I look forward to helping Junior A hockey prosper in Coquitlam,” Manji said in a press release. “Our commitment to the community, sponsors and fans will remain as strong as ever.”
Manji will serve as the team’s governor while Ron Veit will be the team’s alternate governor as well as a special advisor to the new owner. Veit is a goaltending coach who has worked with teams in the BCHL, including the Burnaby Express when it won a national championship in 2006, as well as the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League and the UBC Thunderbirds.
Dave McLellan, a former coach for the Express when the team was based in Burnaby, will be the team’s new president while former president Mark Pettie will be retained as vice-president. Alannah Kedra, who played women’s hockey at the University of Alberta and then with the Fraser Valley Jets of the South Coast Women’s Hockey League, will manage the team’s business operations.
“Junior hockey is an important part of the fabric of Canada,” McLellan said. “We have made a commitment to provide the city of Coquitlam with a highly-competitive and exciting brand of Junior A hockey.”
The Express are currently second in the BCHL’s Mainland division, one point behind the Chilliwack Chiefs. But Coquitlam’s played three fewer games.
BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb said the future looks bright for the Express.
“This news, combined with a great start by the team on the ice, is sure to drive renewed interest and ensure stability for the franchise going forward,” he said.
The Express joined the BCHL for the 2001-’02 season, then temporarily relocated to Burnaby four years later while its home rink, the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex was renovated and enlarged. The team returned to Coquitlam in 2010.
While in Burnaby, the Express won the Fred Page Cup as league champions, and the RBC Cup as national champions in 2006; they won a second BCHL title in 2014.
10/15: Fayaz Manji lives in Burnaby