Robert Mazzuca is well into his eighth season as commissioner of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. Some like him, some don’t, which goes with the territory of being in a position of power.
But what matters is that the majority of the owners in the NOJHL respect the 56-year old Mazzuca enough to continue to keep him on as commissioner of the 12-team league.
Mazzuca can be tough. He can be demanding. He can be over-bearing. And by his own admission, he can be a micro manager.
But he is a smart, thorough individual who is as prepared as they come. He does his homework. And he goes to great lengths to promote the NOJHL and try to make it as safe as possible for its players.
In short, Mazzuca runs a tight ship. If rules are broken, there is a price to pay. And, for example, if an owner does not follow the rules and crosses the line, he becomes a former owner.
Having said all of that, Mazzuca is rather easy to get along with. He is pleasant and personable and in my experience, if he says he is going to do something, he does it.
He is not a perfect commissioner and the NOJHL is not a perfect league. But in comparison to a neighbouring Canadian Jr. Hockey League program such as the fiasco-ridden Ontario Jr. Hockey League, the NOJHL is a neat, tidy, rules-driven, rules-enforced, operation.
I have gotten to know Mazzuca rather well in the almost eight years that he has been on the job as NOJHL commissioner. We have clashed verbally and exchanged harsh, written words more than once.
But at the end of the day, we get along rather well. As Mazzuca says he respects me and the job I do, the feeling from this end is certainly mutual.
The NOJHL is in good hands with Mazzuca.
He is an effective leader and he strives to make decisions based on fact rather than feeling.
Like him or not, he has gained and earned the respect of the majority that have any sort of link to the NOJHL.
And it says here that the NOJHL has become a more respectable, reputable league under Mazzuca’s watch.