CORNWALL, Ontario - A rally outside city hall Monday night in support of the Cornwall River Kings gathered about 75 hockey fans to hear an impassioned plea from owner Bernie Villeneuve.
Villeneuve held court on Pitt Street and implored hockey fans to clamour for more support from the city to make it easier for the River Kings to do business within the Cornwall Civic Complex.
Villeneuve is in the midst of searching for a buyer for the team, and suggested Monday night he's "90 per cent" of the way to selling the team and keeping it in Cornwall before a Tuesday deadline.
The Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey has set such a deadline, or it will takeover the team.
Villeneuve said new owners must be prepared to work with the city to make a go of it - and vice versa.
"The new doors have to be open," he said. "Somebody has got to help us out.
"I hope we fill that rink up this year and have fun."
The River Kings and Cornwall Colts have been unable to co-exist at the civic complex, because the latter has an exclusivity when it comes to selling advertising at the facility.
The River Kings want a 50/50 split.
The city has said all along it signed contracts in good faith with both clubs, and it is honouring those contracts.
The River Kings counter that the Colts have been provided with preferential treatment.
Villeneuve had with him a petition, with dozens of names of people demanding more support for the hockey team, which has played just one season in the league.
The team has been plagued with turmoil since the season ended. Respected coach Al Wagar resigned at season's end.
Rick Lapierre, the former equipment manager, resigned on the weekend and was an unpopular choice by some as the operations manager.