“We can never know about the days to come but we think about them anyway.” — from the song Anticipation by Carly Simon.
With three new teams and a holdover commissioner who is succeeding himself following a resignation that lasted all of three weeks, there is anticipation aplenty as the 12-member Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League preps for the 2015-2016 campaign.
While I do not want summer to end, I do want hockey season to begin. And I suspect that I am not alone.
Besides, it’s been said that good things come to those who wait.
So, let’s continue to enjoy summer while waiting in anticipation for a new NOJHL season.
But will the 2015-2016 NOJHL season go on to become a good one?
That is a question whose answer will remain on hold until next spring.
But at this stage of the game — with less than eight weeks to go before pucks begin to drop — the forecast calls for good days ahead in the NOJHL.
Ownership appears to be solid in all 12 centres.
There are natural, nearby rivalries beginning in the Twin Soos and including Blind River-Elliot Lake, Espanola-Rayside-Balfour and Iroquois Falls-Cochrane.
There are coaches who have played the game at the highest level — more than 1,500 matches in all — including Tom McCarthy in Espanola, Moe Mantha in French River and Paul Gagne in Timmins.
As the league’s reputation grows, there are up-and-coming coaches who are still young but who are seasoned at the junior level and have been recruited and chosen to ply their trade in the NOJHL.
There are high-end players who are Ontario Hockey League draft picks and on the recruit list of National Collegiate Athletic Association schools.
There are respectable player agents and family advisers such as David Maciuk, Adrian Gedye and Brian McCann who are directing their clients to the NOJHL.
Personally, I really like the NOJHL as a league and I like Robert Mazzuca as commissioner, even though we have been at serious odds in the past.
And for the most part, I find those who lead their franchises as being good people to do business with — to the extent that 10 of the NOJHL’s 12 teams advertise on this site, including the Soo Eagles, Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers, Elliot Lake Wildcats, Espanola Express, Rayside-Balfour Canadians, French River Rapids, Powassan Voodoos, Iroquois Falls Eskis and Cochrane Crunch.
Be it summer or hockey season itself, I maintain contacts within the NOJHL and communicate with individuals who I trust and respect on an almost-daily basis. Their anticipation for the season ahead is undeniable as is their passion for the game, in particular the NOJHL.
Looking ahead, the NOJHL will be the host league for next spring’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada junior championships with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners as host entry.
Who from the NOJHL will join KL on the frozen stage?
Ah, we are getting a bid ahead of ourselves.
Afterall, it is still July and the only ice where we’re at right now is in the cooler.