EJ: WHL franchise’s turnaround spurred by Edmonton’s Bob Tory
By Curtis Stock | Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON — Born and raised in Edmonton, Bob Tory is coming home. At least for a few days.
The general manager and co-owner of the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans will be at Rexall Place when his team meets the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night.
“I still consider Edmonton home. My mom still lives there; I still own a house there,” said Tory, who has that house rented out to Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal.
“I plan on taking the kids to eat at some of Edmonton’s fun spots: Tony’s Pizza, Uncle Ed’s Ukrainian Restaurant and the Blue Willow while we’re in town.”
A success wherever he has been, what Tory, his staff and his team have done with the Tri-City Americans has been nothing short of amazing.
“It’s been quite a turnaround, that’s for sure,” said Tory, who joined the Americans in 2001 as the team’s general manager after successful stints with the Kootenay Ice, Edmonton, the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Portland Winterhawks and the Prince Albert Raiders. “The franchise was destitute, border-line broke.”
Owned at that time by Darryl Porter, now the Oil Kings’ alternate governor and vice-president, Glen Sather and Brian Burke, average attendance fell to as low as 1,900.
Basically giving up, that ownership group wanted to move the team, which is based in Kennewick, Wash., to Chiliwack, B.C., in 2004. However, the other WHL teams and the league’s board of governors vetoed the move.
That’s when Tory stepped up.