GMHL continues to grow

February 17, 2015

It wasn’t supposed to last.

Very few — myself included — took it seriously and many of us predicted its quick demise.

But the junior A level Greater Metro Hockey League, which was founded in 2006 and began play with seven teams, has stood the test of time while continuing to grow.

Operating outside the guidelines of Hockey Canada, the GMHL is now a four-division, 22-team league.

Founded by Bobby Russell, a former early-1970s Ontario Hockey League scoring star with the Sudbury Wolves, and his business partner Ken Girard, the GMHL now features teams in northern Ontario and northern Quebec, in southeastern, southwestern and central Ontario as well as the Greater Toronto Area.

The little league that wasn’t supposed to last has proven the naysayers — again, myself included — wrong.

Meantime, sources are saying that the GMHL is poised to further expand for the 2015-2016 season.

Where is the GMHL headed next?

I can’t say for sure.

But I no longer doubt Russell, Girard and the GMHL.

What you think about “GMHL continues to grow”

  1. It will not surprise me if the Mattawa Blackhawks join up with the GMJHL for next season. The NOJHL has not done that much for Junior Hockey here in Mattawa. really It is no diffrent from when we had the Voyageurs.

  2. So Bobby from Mattawa. do you mean in skill levels of play between the two the leagues or something else, obviously you would have a neat perspective attending games from both leagues most recently to. Thanks !

  3. hey Barons Fan ya I really do not see that much diffrence between the Nojhl and the GMJHL as far as level of Play. As far as fan support it has been about the same.

    1. Bob could you please expand into Collingwood with good ownership and bring back some good JR. A hockey the last team proved to be a joke good owner no marketing and it failed please look into it Shawn

  4. Hi,

    As a parent, I have had my son play in all three leagues now (GMHL, NOJHL, CIHL) and two years ago I would say the NOJHL was definitely a higher level of play but I think it is more even now. I do think a top ranked GMHL team would give most NOJHL teams a fair game and may even surprise some of the NOJHL leaders. Too bad we will never get to find out because Hockey Canada still has their head in the sand and wont allow the two leagues to face off. I also think the two CIHL teams (Espanola and Batchewana) would give most NOJHL teams a good contest. It would be interesting to see a CIHL team square off against one of the stronger GMHL teams to see! One conclusion I have made, it is the quality of coaching and management of the team that is the biggest factor in building success in Junior Hockey and getting the wins.

  5. Very good article randy, I personally belive the NOJHL hockey is from top to bottom better hockey but the GMHL has a lot going for it, like many have said Tim Clayden should have joined the GMHL…

    Which makes me wonder the timing of this article…

  6. Bobby from Mattawa Thanks I appreciate your input on the two leagues ! I hope to get out to Sturgeon Falls next season, and see a for myself a few games I have followed the Titans since they started in the GMHL a few years back.

  7. Bobby.
    Attendance in mattawa is notably higher and the level of absolutely higher. Seeing both leagues extensively myself.
    Mattawa s attendance plummeted after the early season poor performance, since then it’s been slow getting back the crowds but they seem to be coming along. The down fall had been mostly due to neither ownership promoting or marketing , what so ever.
    The team, since the coaching change , is night and day since previous. They are in every game even beating the league’s top teams multiple times each. Any one who had recently attended any games realize this.

    1. The CIHL from my sources, tell me the league will regroup as a four to five team loop for next year and will play interlocking games with the Midwest league, but there are no plans to join the GMHL….

  8. Comparing leagues is an exercise in futility much akin to comparing fathers when we were 7. The best league,the one I support, is the one that plays in my local arena. There are strong teams, players, owners in every leagues the same as there are weak ones. The GMHL has been looked down upon by a myriad of “Hockey Experts” since it’s inception in 2006. It has endured it’s share of failures along the way but continues to not only survive but to expand. Is it perfect… no means but what League is. When the CIHL was announced last year it was seen as innovative and headed in a new direction. I.M.O. and it is only an opinion the CIHL is much the same idea as the GMHL.
    No matter which league plays in your area I encourage you to go out and support the Team and it’s Players. What better way to spend a frigid Canadian evening than enjoying some hockey and socializing with your friends and neighbors.
    Keep up the good work Randy.

  9. According to the NOJHL website the attendance figures for Mattawa’s last three home games are 113, 80, and 118. While the team seems to have improved on the ice, it does not seem like they receive much support from the local hockey fans.

  10. How about the GMHL or the CIHL putting a team in Thessalon? There was the Algoma Avalanche a few yrs ago but that was poor owner-ship imho. The area will support a team if there are Local Area Players on the team.

  11. Espanola has shown that it will certainly support a team through the good times and the bad times. The NOJHL is not an option anymore so the Rivermen in the GMHL now makes sense, although the travelling costs would be an impediment for sure. It would be a difficult option for the Attack given the travelling distance of the other teams. Could the Attack join the MWJHL?

  12. The Truth. More like 250 or so. Previous ownership exagerated numbers. Probably knowing his financial plight and the need to sell the team down the road.
    Those numbers, how ever are very obtainable, there has just been zero marketing by either ownership group. Nothing in the local newspaper or around town, which would easily help out. Facebook only, doesn’t cut it in an older populated town.
    Yes Espofan , you are correct, although, they haven’t helped themselves in that regard, as outlined above. That can absolutely be corrected, especially with the way the team has played since the coaching change. It’s a night and day different atmosphere and performance.

  13. Great article Randy and Good point Ken it doesn’t matter what league support it, let the kids play hockey also when you have a small town like mattawa you shouldn’t have to post in local paper, the two teams that has called mattawa home play the same nights week in week out .Mattawa needs to get their heads out of their asses and support the team which ever league it maybe play in. I know for a fact Mattawa packed the area when they had high school hockey

  14. Gmhl has it’s great teams and then it has it’s shit teams for example temicaming beating sturgon falls 16 – 0 in a playoff game that’s a complete joke I say kick some of the weaker teams out and keep the strong because multi goal games is an embaresment to the league inmo

    1. Dbristol:
      Word around the rink has Sturgeon Falls Leaving the GMHL at the completion of this season and joining the N.O.J.H.L for the 2015/16 season.
      Sturgeon has iced some competitive teams. They were League Champs in 2012 defeating the Temiscaming team to earn the Title.

  15. Yes I remember I played in the league that year what about all the other blow outs going on ?? And if you recall sturgon got players from the north bay trappers and if you remember they were kicked out of the nojhl for failing a drug test so that championship team was all ex nojhl and ex opjhl take a look at the gmhl games and you will see why it’s embarrassing

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