By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – The new Cornwall River Kings owner says the team is financially stable and will make it through this year and onto next season.
The River Kings confirmed early Sunday afternoon Brock Frost has sold his majority ownership stake in the Kings to Darren Madden. Rumours had been swirling for days that Frost was in the midst of negotiating the sale of the Ligue Nord-Americane de Hockey (LNAH) franchise.
Madden has served as team trainer, director of sales, director of merchandise, coordinating employee schedules and worked in partnership with the Booster Club, as well as having spent three years with the Belleville Bulls in the Ontario Hockey League.
He also previously worked as the medical trainer for the Cornwall Colts.
“Between 2013 and 2014 I went from on-ice to the business side,” said Madden.
When asked about the transition to owner, he replied, “I feel extremely proud and I’m ready for the challenge”
Madden is the fourth owner to take over the reins of the semi-pro hockey team.
The River Kings were unveiled in May 2013 with Bernie Villeneuve as the owner. His reign lasted until Sept. that year.
Then, an ownership group led by David Small took over until May 2014.
Up next was local realtor and city councillor-elect Brock Frost. He agreed to purchase the River Kings in June.
The media statement issued by the Kings on Sunday afternoon said despite publicly rejecting several offers, Frost has decided to divest majority ownership of the hockey club.
It further stated that Darren Madden “will become managing partner of the team.”
Financial details of the ownership change between him and Frost were not disclosed.
Frost suggested to Seaway News on Thursday that he is not actively looking to offload the River Kings – but people have approached him about acquiring the franchise.
Madden said the two have been discussing the idea for awhile.
“It was not spur of the moment,” he added.
Frost explained that “it has come to the point where there is not much more I can do to help the team.”
“I have worked vigorously to keep the team in Cornwall and have streamlined a disciplined budget, promoted the new franchise in a new light, and am very proud to have left the team financially strong for the new owner,” he said.
Both Frost and Madden agree that the team will remain in Cornwall, season ticket holders still have their seats, sponsors still have their sponsorships, and players still have their contracts.
River King Chris Cloutier made his opinion clear on the teams’ Facebook page on Saturday.
Everyone hold on tight; all that really matters is that this team isn’t going anywhere!
Show up to the Civic Complex and support the Cornwall River Kings and this team stays; it’s as simple as that.
It doesn’t matter who owns the team, we play for the crest on the front of the jersey.
Any fan who was at last Saturday night’s game will know how much the players appreciate the fans.
Let’s stick together”
Fellow teammate Sasha Pokulok echoed his sentiments in a similar post.
But as the Cornwall team makes major changes at the helm, there’s still another voice that has yet to be heard.
According to the statement, “Although the transfer of ownership has been legally completed through their attorneys, Madden and Frost will seek official league approval in early December.”