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Attack ownership reassures fans

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Owen Sound Attack president Bob Severs wants everyone to know that the Ontario Hockey League franchise is staying put.

Severs said Tuesday he issued an open letter to the fans to put their minds at ease given the sales and movements of other OHL teams and the speculation it has led to surrounding the Attack.

"With all the things that have been going on in the OHL the past few months we started to see some kind of silly speculation on social media. There was a blogger from Toronto who contacted one of our staff and this sort of thing," Severs said in a telephone interview.

"We just felt there was a lot being made of nothing here."

The ownership group talked about what to do and felt by ignoring the chatter, it would fuel more speculation that a sale or a move could be in the works.

"My own feeling is that it is best to tell people it is fine," said Severs.

In his letter dated Monday, Severs refers to the recent sale of the Plymouth Whalers and the plan to move that team to Flint, Mich., for next season, the sale of the Belleville Bulls, which will move to Hamilton next season, and the sale of the Sarnia Sting, which are expected to stay in Sarnia.

"These events . . . are not related to each other and they are in no way related to us or in any way have anything to do with us," said Severs.

The ownership group - made up of Tim Hortons franchise owner Fay Harshman, campground owner Peter MacDermid, campground owner and former NHL player Paul MacDermid, Sprucedale Agromart owner Frank Coulter and Severs - is committed to Owen Sound, Severs said.

"We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves and the thing is doing really well," said Severs. "We are paying our bills, looking after things and contributing to the community and why would we change that? We are having too much fun."

Severs said he thinks the Owen Sound ownership group has different financial expectations of the team than some do in other centres.

"Some of these teams, people are making a living out of it and so their expectations perhaps are different," he said.

"In our instance our expectations are that it pays its bills and that anything that is left over we in some way or another try to plow it back into the community, because nobody is making a living from this and nobody intended to."

Severs said the Attack have always put money back in the community when they can including $250,000 for cancer care management, $100,000 for the hospital, $50,000 for the regional recreation centre and adding a new video and sound system to the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, where the Attack play.

"Obviously it is making a little money because we wouldn't be doing that if we didn't have it," said Severs. "Our expectation is not at the end of the year we are going to buy a new car with it."

Severs agreed that a lot of the speculation around the Attack is because it is a small centre compared with the Londons, Kitcheners and Ottawas of the league.

"If I do say so myself, we are bloody well managed and this has been a success story since Day 1," said Severs. "We have strong people in positions that matter and they are doing a great job for us and it is working."

Severs said he doesn't see operating a small market team getting any harder and he attributes that in part to the relationship the owners have with the city of Owen Sound.

"I give great credit to the vision that our councils and mayors have had as we have worked through the different groups," said Severs, who also thanked the fans and business community for their support.

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