Michigan businessman buys majority ownership of Halifax Mooseheads

Bobby Smith, left, presents new Halifax Mooseheads owner Sam Simon with a new team jersey.  (Submitted by Halifax Mooseheads - image credit)
Bobby Smith, left, presents new Halifax Mooseheads owner Sam Simon with a new team jersey. (Submitted by Halifax Mooseheads - image credit)

The Halifax Mooseheads have been sold.

Majority owner Bobby Smith made the announcement Tuesday morning at a press conference held at the Halifax Convention Centre.

"When a good buyer presented himself and he saw the Mooseheads as a team he wanted to buy and I realized this guy was going to be a real asset to the team, there was a deal to be made," said Smith, who bought the Mooseheads twenty years ago.

"We put one together and here we are."

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

Smith, who lives in Arizona and recently turned 65, says the sale of the team became official last week.

He says the team was never officially for sale but he was open to offers.

"I've loved it and there is no question I'm going to miss it," said Smith, who was born in North Sydney and played 15 seasons in the NHL including seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

"Ever since I've been 17 years old, junior hockey or the NHL has been a big part of my life."

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

Smith says he feels confident he is selling the team to a family who will do a good job operating the team in the future.

Sam Simon, whose family orginally immigrated to Michigan from the Middle East, launched the Atlas Oil Company in 1985 with a single delivery truck. He built the company into a huge fuel wholesaler with over 500 employees and expanded into numerous other industries, including renewable energy, real estate, aerospace and defence, insurance, wine and sports entertainment.

He says he tried to buy the NBA's Detroit Pistons a few years ago but a deal wasn't reached. He says Halifax and the Mooseheads' strong fan base made a great first impression on him.

"The people, the fans, the community, you guys have just a beautiful place and the Mooseheads, everybody loves them," said Simon, who says his twin sons will also help in the operation of the team.

Smith says he will remain with the team in the short term to work with the Simons on the transition.

During Smith's tenure with the Mooseheads, the team won their first and only Memorial Cup championship in 2013. Many video messages were played at the press conference from former Halifax players who congratulated Smith on his 20 years with the team, including 2013 goaltender Zach Fucale.

While Simon has taken over as the new owner, day-to-day operations with the team are expected to remain the same. Simon is purchasing the team at a time when they are near the top of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings and are legitimate Memorial Cup contenders.

Neither party would disclose the purchase price.