A hockey story a day …

Randy Russon
May 13, 2018

For players, the hockey season can vary in length from about six to nine months, depending on the age group and level.

For some coaches and managers, the season never really ends, except for a week or two off, here and there.

And for someone who writes hockey, there is, on average, a story a day, even during the so-called off-season.

Which, for an old hockey writer like me, keeps me active, keeps me happy and keeps me in business.

Seems as though hockey has a way of making news, just by the sheer change and evolution of it.

For example, even though the 2017-2018 season has come to an end in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, there are stories to write.

Soo Eagles are one NOJHL team that has made multiple moves since the last games were played on their 2017-2018 slate.

Not only have the Eagles, through general manager Bruno Bragagnolo, confirmed several player commitments to the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks, they made a major change to their hockey operations staff.

After three seasons as head coach of the Eagles, the contract of veteran NOJHL bench boss Jim Capy was not renewed for the 2018-2019 campaign. And shortly after Bragagnolo made the call to not re-up Capy, he confirmed the hiring of Doug Laprade as the Eagles new head coach.

A former Division 1, national champion as both a player and an assistant coach with the Lake Superior State University Lakers, the hiring of Laprade as the Eagles new head master drew considerable readership and traffic to Sault This Week and Hockey News North.

Another hiring within the NOJHL that spiked traffic and attention was the French River Rapids of the NOJHL bringing in Sudbury native and former Ontario Hockey League defenseman Shawn Frappier as their new head coach.

A former coach with the (minor midget) Sudbury Wolves of the Great North Midget Hockey League, Frappier — like Laprade — is seen as a positive coaching addition to the NOJHL.

To be sure, there is so much that has gone on and will go on throughout the hockey world despite it being on recess from actual games being played.

In Sault Ste. Marie, just as an example, tryouts have already been held for players as young as eight-and-nine-years old for rep and select teams ahead of the 2018-2019 season. A tad too soon, perhaps? Maybe. But that is the way it rolls these days.

And so it goes.

As noted, I like the fact that I get to write about my favourite amateur sport day to day, week to week, month to month — and as the years go by.

Many play hockey. Most aspire to play at higher levels but truth be told, the majority do not make it to the major midget ranks, let alone junior leagues such as the OHL and NOJHL.

But hockey has a way of uniting players, coaches, fans, friends and family.

In Canada, hockey is our sport. Other sports are prominent, especially at the youth level, but hockey is usually where it is at whether one plays it, watches it, supports it, reads about it, talks about it, or writes about it.

Writing about it, while fun and fulfilling, can be a tad on the tedious side.

I mean, there is always some one who thinks they can write a better story and knows more about a particular subject than the person doing the writing. And that is fine, as this is a free world with the freedom of speech that goes with it.

Besides, when some one tells me that they do not like a particular story that I have written, I merely tell them that, living in a free world, if they don’t like what I write, they have the choice to not read it.

At any rate, writing hockey is a big part of what makes me going — and on a virtual daily basis, no less.

There are those who call being a hockey writer a “dream job.” And I tend to agree.

Really, being a sportswriter and a sportscaster are the only two jobs I have aspired to want since I was languishing in the high school classrooms of Sir James Dunn, thinking ahead to liquid lunch at the Caswell Hotel and how I was going to try to out-smart the vice principal, Mr. Fleming.

A career as a waiter and bartender, one that began and lasted almost four years, at the old Windsor Hotel in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, would have suited me just fine. Being a waiter and a bartender and a bootlegger (did I just write that?) did allow me to have a bank balance in excess of $1,000, circa 1972, at the good old Royal Bank on Queen St. E., where the manager, Mr. Stephenson, appreciated enterprising kids who knew how to save their money.

But writing about hockey has proven to be easier than carrying trays of draft beer and having a certain old customer at the Windsor Hotel men’s bar call me “Rhonda” instead of “Randy.” (Must have been the long hair. Ha!)

Well, the hair is thinner and shorter now. But the hockey season is longer and I will take that in exchange for the flowing locks.

A hockey story a day keeps the aging process at bay.

At least I hope so.

What you think about “A hockey story a day …”

  1. Another former Eagle who decided to leave to get more playing time & development, that just committed to play D3 college. If we can find some way to keep these guys, maybe better identify talent and develop it, we could triple the number of commitments each year. Why do more guys leave and commit to play college hockey than they guys who stay? Will coaching change help that or is it a front office related issue?


  2. Add Cimmarusti to that list as well. Think he also went to this exact same Cyclones team in Tier 3 and committed to play NCAA hockey at St. Anselm.

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