A storied franchise that had a presence within the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League from 1962 until 2005 will be revived for the 2015-2016 season, HockeyNewsNorth.com has confirmed.
The Rayside-Balfour Canadiens will assume the identity of the Sudbury Nickel Barons as both the name change and relocation have been approved by NOJHL governors.
The relocation is of little consequence from a travel standpoint as Rayside-Balfour is part of the City of Greater Sudbury, which housed the aforementioned, Copper Cliff-based, Nickel Barons.
But having Rayside-Balfour back in the NOJHL does restore history to the league while retaining a presence in Greater Sudbury.
As the NOJHL advanced levels from Jr. B to Jr. A, what eventually became the Rayside-Balfour franchise played under various monikers from 1962 until 2005.
The team was known as the Garson-Falconbridge Native Sons from 1962-1969, the Chelmsford Canadiens from 1969-1973, the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens from 1973-1995 and the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats from 1995-2005.
In all, the franchise won 10 NOJHL/Northern Ontario Hockey Association championships and took home Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada titles as the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats in 1997, 2000 and 2002.
Now, the transformation of the Sudbury Nickel Barons to the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens continues a new-look, NOJHL circle-of-change under hands-on, aggressive commissioner Robert Mazzuca.
The 52-year old Mazzuca, who has a reputation that includes being called a meddlesome micro-manager, is nonetheless a thorough, well-connected, intelligent individual who makes decisions based on what he feels is best for the NOJHL.
When Mazzuca took over as NOJHL commissioner in 2011, the league was made up of seven teams.
Since taking office, Mazzuca has overseen arrivals and departures to and from the Michigan Soo, Espanola, Elliot Lake, North Bay, Mattawa, Powassan, Cochrane, Timmins and Iroquois Falls.
The NOJHL, which now stands at nine members, is awaiting NOHA approval to set up a 10th team in French River and is exploring a return to both the Michigan Soo and Espanola.