As the NOJHL world turns

June 12, 2015

Less than a week ahead of its annual general meeting, slated to begin in Sault Ste. Marie on June 18, there is an unsettling buzz that is humming from within the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

When NOJHL governors convene in the Soo next week, one of major items on the agenda will be the proposed 2015-2016 budget.

Part of the annual league budget are salaries that are paid to NOJHL staff that includes commissioner Robert Mazzuca, executive director Ted Magee, administration officer Hector Seguin, communications director Tom Annelin and a few others.

Of note, Mazzuca’s contract, which pays him a base salary of about $30,000, is up for renewal. And the word from within the NOJHL is that Mazzuca is asking for double the money to return for a fifth season as commissioner.

Without question, the NOJHL has grown under Mazzuca’s watch and is more credible. Set to become a 12-team league in 2015-2016, the NOJHL has a strangle-hold on the north region from Sault Ste. Marie in the west to Kirkland Lake in the east.

But the problem, according to more than one owner, is the financial strain that most NOJHL teams are under — though it should be noted that team directors approve all league expenses.

At any rate, as the NOJHL has become increasingly-expensive to operate within over the past few years, the 2015-2016 budget that Mazzuca is proposing will double the annual expenses for all teams, according to league sources.

And while the NOJHL is looking as solid as ever with 12 teams, let’s face it, these aren’t flush southern Ontario markets that we are talking about with plenty of corporate sponsorship money available.

For the most part, the NOJHL is a small-market league with town populations under 10,000.

For example, Kirkland Lake has a population of 8,500, Espanola and Cochrane are both at about 5,300, Iroquois Falls checks in at 4,500, followed by Blind River at 3,500, Powassan at 3,300 and French River at 2,400.

To be sure, those aren’t big towns with a lot of sponsorship money.

Then there are teams — Rayside-Balfour Canadians, Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles — that operate in towns that are financially-dominated by either an Ontario Hockey League or Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association presence.

The way I see it, Mazzuca has done a lot of good for the NOJHL. But given the economic climate and conditions of the north region, NOJHL teams may not be able to afford what the commissioner is proposing in the 2015-2016 budget.

One solution might be to trim league staff.

I mean, does the NOJHL really need to be paying Magee half of what Mazzuca makes? Just what does Magee do — and can the NOJHL do without his position?

At any rate, a board-room showdown is on the horizon at next week’s AGM.

Will Mazzuca stay or will he go?

Whether he does or doesn’t, this much I know about Mazzuca — he is a very smart man who tends to always be one step ahead of the game.

What you think about “As the NOJHL world turns”

  1. I believe it to be that before Mazzuca became the Commish that Hector ran the NOJ by himself on his own. So good question why does the NOJ need to have such a big Staff? It is great that the NOJ have 12 Teams now how ever my question is how long will all of the Small Market teams be able to afford to be a part of the NOJ???

  2. Having too many paid positions can kill any sport. Also for the teams with less advertising dollars will have to put this extra cost on the players. Parents can only afford so much the higher cost on families will cause players and parents to think about going to the NOJHL.

  3. I agree with Randy that the Commisioner Mazzuca has done an excellent job in making the League better. That being said he has done so at great expense to the Owners tho if I am correct the Owners would have a say in what is passed in any Budget.

  4. Frood that is correct and as Randy noted in his Article the owners are the one’s that approve all of the League’s finances / expenses. If the Teams are concerned of thier financiel well being then they should stand together to make sure that they can all operate under a Budget that suit’s ALL TEAMS.

    P.S. to Randy: I find the Blog Site to be very informed and interesting. You do a great job. I am from Chelmsford and so happy to see a Junior Team playing here again.

  5. Personally I think Mazzuca should come back at the same contract for ONE YEAR, or if need him what he demands (or half that 45k), but again, only for one year as a trial basis while the league figures out how this 12-team league will run, how much money can be made etc etc.

    In a years time, come back and see how the 12-team league is doing and whether the league can afford to pay its commissioner double that salary he is currently getting paid.

    All we have right now for the budget is what ifs and big ideas. Until these ideas come to fruition, or these what ifs are resolved, they should just sit tight.

    The NOJHL probably shouldn’t throw all their eggs into one basket and pay their staff OJHL type staff salaries just because they’re a 12-team league…whose to say all 12 of these teams will survive past this season?

  6. A few short years ago teams were able to operate on sponsorship, gate and donation alone. Now they are pay to play and pay to billet so how are they so strained? Sure costs are up but when you are generating 80-120K in registration fees from kids and not paying there billets how can they be so cash strapped all of a sudden?

    Most teams likely run on a budget around 200k for the season or less and are getting over half that in registrations that they previously werent getting.

    Just my two cents but this cash crunch should have been alleviated a bit with the new pay to play model.

    1. 200k budgets flew out the door long ago me lad. Some be north of 300k and 400k. Many of the teams will struggle. Hockey is an expensive business

  7. If Mazzucca and the staff are so good at selling franchises, why don’t they make themselves useful and sell some corporate sponsorship that is spread out to all the teams? Lock up contracts with the likes of Boston Pizza, Pizza Pizza, Tim Horton’s, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Domtar, KL Gold, Detour Gold, Vale, Rio Tinto, etc to name but a few…. The players and teams eat at those places, sleep at those establishments or the fans work there.

    Their corporate logos would be visible on uniforms, in rinks and in the minds of everyone watching Jr hockey.

    $50,000 from 20 corporate entities every year would help stabilize the league and keep 12 franchises viable. Besides, its a freaking tax write off for them.
    Please don’t tell me that they can’t afford it !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *