The Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings have officially been sold. On Tuesday afternoon, the Wheat Kings announced that the team has changed ownership from former GM and head coach Kelly McCrimmon to Jared Jacobson of the J&G Group of Companies.
The official sale was forwarded to the WHL’s Board of Governors last week, prior to its announcement on Tuesday. In respect of McCrimmon’s late brother Brad (who passed away in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash on September 7, 2011), Kelly McCrimmon held off the announcement until Tuesday afternoon in a gesture of Memoriam.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for our family,” said McCrimmon in a team-issued press release. “The Wheat Kings have been our life, from playing here for two years and then operating the team for 31 years, 28 of those as an owner. There have been so many incredible moments, the victories, the people, the staff and of course the many players over the years that have worn our uniform. I started as GM when I was 28 years old. Brandon became our home, we love the city and we love Manitoba.”
BREAKING: Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon is expected to step down as Owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Negotiations on new ownership have been completed and the league’s Board of Governors has been notified of the pending sale.
McCrimmon has been the sole owner of the team since 2000
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) September 3, 2020
Jacobson, a third-generation construction solutions and business management owner, comes into the picture in Brandon as a ‘non-hockey guy’, taking over ownership from a man who has been involved with the team for the better part of 30 years. Although not new to city, Jacobson and Co. will be under much scrutiny as a new chapter in Wheat Kings history opens for the 2020-21 season.
The deal, which was kept under the table as best as possible throughout months of deliberation, is effective immediately and will see Jacobson assume ownership and ‘Governor’ status on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.
“Kelly McCrimmon has been synonymous with the Brandon Wheat Kings for as long as most WHL fans can remember”, said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in a league-issued news release. “During his long tenure as General Manager and Owner, Kelly not only built the Wheat Kings into a model franchise but also played an integral role in developing the WHL into the world class league it is today. His extensive knowledge of the game and strong business acumen have been a major asset to our member Clubs and the League as a whole for many years and we wish Kelly and his family all the best in the future.”
After making the jump to the National Hockey League as assistant general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights in August of 2016, McCrimmon, now 59, has completed his first year as the team’s GM – a title he has held since May of 2019. Despite making a name for himself through his many years coaching and managing in Brandon, the former SJHL and MJHL league champion will be able to turn his full attention to the Golden Knights, knowing the Wheat Kings are in good hands.
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“This is a very exciting day for myself, my family and business partners,” new owner Jared Jacobson added in the release. “Our ownership group is looking forward to adding new energy and new ideas to one of the most storied franchises in the Canadian Hockey League. We are committed to providing the fans with not only a great on ice product, but the best fan experience possible… I would like to thank Kelly for this opportunity, the Wheat Kings mean everything to Brandon, Manitobans, and fans across Western Canada. We look forward to building on the past successes of the organization.”
McCrimmon, who in no part was asked by either the team or league to consider selling the club, indicated that his large commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights has become exceptionally time-consuming over the past number of years. A considerable focus on selling the Wheat Kings to the right buyer was at the forefront in his negotiation process.
“We believe this is the right decision,” said McCrimmon, who also indicated that his family would remain stationed in Brandon. “The game has been so good to my family, I am fortunate now to be part of a great organization in Las Vegas with the Knights, and it became apparent a succession plan was needed. I feel good for people in Brandon and Western Manitoba that the Wheat Kings will be in great hands with Jared and will always be a big part of the City of Brandon.”
Following the conclusion of his WHL and NCAA playing career in 1984, McCrimmon brought his talents to the Brandon Wheat Kings, where he amassed six conference titles, four appearances in the Memorial Cup, and two WHL championship victories, serving in various roles including Head Coach, General Manager, and Owner. McCrimmon will continue to pay special attention to the Wheat Kings, as a part of this sale includes his retention of the ‘Alternate Governor’ title, as he continues to serve the Golden Knights franchise.