Town hall politics

March 10, 2015

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the town hall of Espanola.

To be sure, there is more to the story that started with Monday’s press release issued by the Town of Espanola which stated that it was “exercising its right” to terminate its contract with the Espanola Rivermen of the Canadian International Hockey League.

For starters, the Rivermen have a contract with the Town of Espanola which carries through until May, 2017.

On the other hand, the Town of Espanola — by virtue of its actions made public through a press release that it issued — seems to believe that it has the right to terminate its contract with the Rivermen.

So, at least for now, there is a standstill.

But don’t think for a minute that the Town of Espanola plans on being without a Junior A hockey team in 2015-2016 and beyond.

Don’t think for a minute that commissioner Robert Mazzuca hasn’t been doing what he can to get back into Espanola after the Rivermen left the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for the CIHL in 2014-2015.

What’s next?

CIHL president Tim Clayden, who also owns the Rivermen, has a huge number of Espanola hockey fans on the side of his team.

The Rivermen have done a lot of exceptional community work in and around Espanola in the two seasons of their existence and fans have been showing their unhappiness with the Town of Espanola and its treatment of the CIHL team in the wake of Monday’s press release.

But while I do believe that “a contract is a contract” and that Clayden should fight for the rights of the Rivermen, part of me says he should say to hell with the Town of Espanola.

Why fight to stay where you are not wanted?

Why not accept the overture from the community of Massey and move the Rivermen a mere 20 miles away to the picturesque Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers area?

What you think about “Town hall politics”

  1. i agree with Randy … Mazucca ‘s finger prints are all over this. way to go Espanola Politicians for running the Rivermen out of Town. This is BULL-SHIT!!!

  2. Never under estimate the power or the influence that Rob Mazzuca carries with him as nojhl commissioner. He is close with Mr. Drago and Mr. Drago has tonnes of power and influence.

  3. Does not seem fair at all to me.
    As stated by RR and others me too “A Contract is a Contract” and Politician’s should not be allowed to break a contract as their “right” as they claim.

  4. The way I see it is if the Rivermen leave (kicked out) and we get an NOJHL Team in there place then the Fans will be apeesed and I doubt it very much that many of us will be pissed off at the Town no more. If there is Junior Hockey in town it don’t really matter which League it is although I will say that I think it is dirty politics at work here.

  5. Another article putting the blame for this debacle on every one else but Clayden. This time : “to hell with Espanola” and, unbelievably, it’s Robert Mazzuca and the NOJHL’s fault, again!

    1. no one’s fault, Robbie. It is what it is — and as we speak I am on the phone with Robert Mazzuca, having a nice chat.

  6. This may not be comparing apples to apples (not sure if Clayden is a resident of Espanola) but a similar event happened in Jamestown, NY that wound up being a disaster. The local owner was replaced by a contract loophole which allowed the bigger, more established NAHL to set up shop. Attendance went down by half and the new team flopped. Do a little searching and you’ll find it.

  7. Not trying to be negative, just saying that all the parties involved need to fully understand the situation, unlike the example noted above .

  8. So if this sports group that owns Mattawa and owns GMHL (non sanctioned hockey as determined by hockey canada nazis) then how could they be allowed to have a team in the NOJHL. There has always been and always will be double standards in Hockey Canada. It will be unfortunate to lose the Rivermen,Tim (and by admission) has made mistakes but has been great to the town and the players have been a positive influence on the kids in the community also on various groups by volunteering their time to help out. I will support what ever junior hockey in Espanola but the Rivermen will have a place in most peoples hearts.

  9. Also our town council is a laughing stock in ontario right now the one councillor that did not vote for this seems to be the only one with any thought about the people and youth of our community.

  10. At present in Massey we have the Massey Predators Minor Hockey Assn. The Sables/Spanish Rivers Area has a total population of close to 3,200. I can say that Massey Arena is a purfect venu for this level of Junior Hockey and I hope that Mr. Tim Clayden acts upon the offer of Brady and comes to see what we have to offer him.

    1. The Town of Espanola would certainly be making a better decision rejoining the NOJHL but if Tim hasn’t broken any conditions of his contract which he says he hasn’t then the town needs to honor it whether they like it or not.

  11. my concern about the massey arena is the size of dressing room and availability to recreational facilities.. it is not just about playing hockey on ice there are intangibles..

  12. Hockeyscout…yes intangibles such as having a lease in Espanola that xpires in 2017 but you get kicked out anyway.

  13. how can anyone blame the town of espanola. This league finished with two teams. Not much of a league. So the town is suppose to allow clayden to take them along this uphill journey . Perhaps clayden’s plan for next year may turn out better than the inaugural year but why should the town take that chance. The town deserves better and yes the nojhl is a much more stable option. Regardless of what some may say the town will support the nojhl in espanola , with or without clayden . Why because espanola is a hockey town .

  14. Give us the Rivermen and weel show the CIHL and the Town -of Espanola what we can do. We have sponsers lined up to help and there is not a dam thing wrong with our Dressing Rooms.

  15. Hockey is played on ice not in the dressing room
    Who cares if they are smaller or bigger as long as they can get dressed. I have been a part of many junior programs in southern Ontario you do not need a big room or a dedicated room to play hockey it works in any arena that has an ice surface 4 dressing rooms and spectators pretty sure massey had this!

  16. First off ……. At no point in this article did Randy say that this was the doing of Rob Mazzuca. Word in Ontario (especially when it comes to JR hockey) spreads FAST. If this has been leaked prior to coming out now no doubt Rob would be all over the Town of Espanola trying to move in. YOU would too. Its an amazing place for Teir II Jr hockey. We don’t know all the facts, we shouldn’t be continually placing blame when we don’t know the full story. If Mazzuca went to Espanola and said “find a way to terminate the contact and the NOJ is back then” yes by all means call the man a RAT. Until we know we shouldn’t be placing blame. There is going to be a lot to this story when it comes out and no doubt RR will be impartial whether the blame goes on the NOJ and Maz, the Town of Espanola or on TC.

    This story is now huge no doubt RR is working Overtime trying to get to the bottom of it for us.

    And I truly believe that unless the CIHL becomes a full league ….. At least 5-6 teams (yes i’ll count the teams that will be part of their interlocking schedule) then the league should fold and either TC starts a team in the G, move out of province and try again where his bridges are still intact or be the bigger man and go talk to Maz and try and get back in the NOJ.

    Please don’t take the last part of that as me saying that the crap between TC and Maz was all TCs fault. I’m just saying someone has to be the bigger man and it would look great on Tim if he did, Mazzuca wouldn’t know what hit him.

  17. Just pointing out that before Clayden moved in, the Espanola arena sat empty of a junior team for 10 years, after 2 NOJHL franchises failed and one GMHL franchise failed. No one was beating down the town door to get into the brand new facility at that time. Now these councillors are backhanded clearly, doing this all behind closed doors when they were elected on the absolute promise to get rid of that kind of politics, but they are not stupid. You don`t kick a team out without another waiting in the wings. Now never having any one of them show up to a game, they failed to realize the fans of Espanola don`t want another team, we are attached to this one. At least give the league a little time to get it`s house in order.

  18. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t TC vow to leave the NOJHL when it was announced that EL was moving to Cochrane and that he was blaming this move on increasing his operating expenses by 35%. Isn’t this why he was suspended…..comments detrimental to the league??
    Meanwhile, EL gets an expansion franchise which have done really well. The NOJHL is split into 2 divisions lessening the travel cost overall.
    How great would it be if TC just owned up and brought back the Rivermen into the NOJHL fold?
    Even greater if Mazucca was successful in bringing back Temiscamigue.
    Forget that outlaw chit.

  19. As much as it sucks to say this…. The “Outlaw” league is in Temang to stay. They have had a ton of success, they always have a team who competes and the fans LOVE them. You may see Sturgeon leave the G and make its way to the NOJ but that’s it. It’s too bad that it would hurt the Cubs but New Liseard would be an amazing spot for a Jr team. Perfect rink for it. They already fill the place on Friday nights for MAAA games. AND the rivalry with KL would be just as heated as the Powassan Mattawa one is now.

  20. The town council is all about cutting costs and finding ways to save the taxpayer money.

    I truly believe this is done in the best interest of any taxpayer in this town. Clayden vows to have a league of 4 teams playing with 4 others in the MWJHL…which just so happened to join USA Hockey.

    so go figure..the town knew something was happening and acted on it. There are plenty of quality junior hockey people that believe Espanola is a viable place to open up shop for a hockey team…and also it was great fan support.

    With the advancement of social media and what not in the past 10 years, the town and their ravenous fans are getting noticed. Not like back in 2003 when the Screaming Eagles left and we were without a team for many many years.

    The Arena is just over 15 years old, it needs to have Hockey Canada junior A hockey back in town. The town can surely support a league like that…if Elliot Lake can do it (a team that left for Cochrane, awarded a expansion franchise shortly after the Bobcats became the Crunch.

    TC should cut his losses and head for the GMHL or out of province/country. The town wants sanctioned hockey and the NOJHL and I don’t blame them. Paying 13 bucks a ticket to watch the Rivermen get blown out by the Batchewana Attack every Friday night is a pretty collosal waste of money if you ask me.

    1. @Brad…please please tell us how in the heck is getting
      Rid of a team,that helps pay the tax burden of the Recreation Center,saving the town tax money???? This will need to trickle down to who??? Ohhhh the TAXPAYERS…!!!
      Dumbest comment so far.

      1. When the owner breaks the contract and doesn’t pay his bills…who ends up paying his bills in the end? The Taxpayers! As far as I’ve heard from the rumor mill, that’s exactly what happened and the town wasn’t going to raise taxes further to help pay the Rivermen’s ice use bills, dressing room bills, gym use bills etc just to keep them in town playing out of the CIHL.

        In the end whether there’s a team here not paying their bills, or no team here, the taxpayers are still footing the bill for the Complex.

        The town wants the team in a stable league, one in which Clayden has to worry about only HIS team and not an entire failing league.

        Clayden I’m sure has lost his shirt, pants and at least one sock trying to start up the CIHL, and with it failing fast–with the USPHL (USA Hockey sanctioned) welcoming an MWJHL division, his interlocking schedule is likely a pipedream now.

        Yeah I know nothing though…sad sad state of affairs.

        I’m hearing good news might be coming for Espanola though, so who knows whats going to happen.

  21. As i stated i’m a follower of hockey as we all know it is a business and sometimes cut throat at best. The old saying bring me the flyer and we will meet it or beat it by 10%. All league have tried to cut the others grass in they backyards ,but where there is great hockey fans the game will live on.

  22. one issue with being a renegade/outlaw league is that the officiating suffers as your pool of officials is not deep and the experience for fast paced hockey is not there.

  23. Hockey Fan if you are commenting on the quality of the officiating in the outlaw which i’m assuming ( i know sometime when you assume) but let run with the fact that the gmhl is one of the leagues your talking about, i can say from a coach /parent and former noha level 4 official that the overall quality of the officiating is good can’t say that they ever costed us a game. Also the amount of the games that supervisor’s where present showed the commitment for consistent games .

    1. Gord,I should have specified the CIHL.The G has been around for awhile so they have their Officials,watching CIHL games basically the striped shirts couldn’t keep up with the play and got in the way of play and puck alot of the time.They were very inconsistent with their calls

  24. Fair enough hockey fan I for one know what you are saying because 3 years ago the gmhl needed to make changes with the officials and they did , ken and bob has make major moves to better the league and as a fan and parent i’m proud to say my son has played in their league

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