Adding on in Elliot Lake

May 4, 2024

What goes around has come around for John Buchanan. Having briefly served as general manager of the erstwhile, rag-tag Elliot Lake Red Wings in 2021, Buchanan is back in town as the assistant GM for the since rebranded Elliot Lake Vikings.

John Buchanan

Buchanan initially set up shop in Elliot Lake ahead of the 2021-2022 season and did a lot of work for incoming Red Wings owner Paul Noad before being inexplicably fired not long after.

Subsequently — and after two seasons of topsy turvy ownership and operation — the Red Wings were mercifully rebranded as the Vikings in 2023-2024 when local resident Jef Jarmovitch took control of Elliot Lake’s Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League franchise from Noad.

Now, three years later, with the Vikings in good hands with all around good guy Jarmovitch as the president and general manager, Buchanan has returned to Elliot Lake as assistant GM to Jarmovitch. Jarmovitch got to know Buchanan in Elliot Lake back in 2021 and said is happy to have the veteran junior hockey manager and scout on board with the Vikings.

“John recently reached out to me and said he had unfinished business in Elliot Lake and would like to help out,” Jarmovitch related to Hockey News North. “He is a good hockey guy and a good person.”

Buchanan will begin his new duties with the Vikings by attending several summer hockey tournaments over the next few months looking for talent to try to recruit to Elliot Lake, said Jarmovitch.

Meanwhile, as he prepares for his second season as the franchise operator in Elliot Lake, Jarmovitch continues to search for a new head coach to take over from interim bench boss Jon Campbell, who will not be back with the Vikings in 2024-2025. Campbell was brought in as the interim head coach late in the ’23-24 season when Jarmovitch fired Chris Keleher. Jarmovitch had inherited Keleher’s contract from aforementioned franchise owner Paul Noad.

As for Jarmovitch himself, he certainly earned the respect of his fellow NOJHL owners during his first season at the helm of the Vikings. Jarmovitch was named the well deserved recipient of the Joe Drago Trophy as NOJHL Director of the Year for the ’23-24 season.

Keeping the Elliot Lake franchise operational under the most trying of circumstances, Jarmovitch was recognized by his peers for his commitment to both his team and the NOJHL. After winning its home opener in Jarmovitch’s initial campaign at the helm of running the Vikings, Elliot Lake was forced to play the remainder of its games on the road following the September closure of Centennial Arena, due to structural issues. Yet persevering, the Vikings traveled to nearby Massey for both practices and regular season contests from mid September on, in continuing to complete and fulfil their obligations to all concerned — and against all odds.

Jef Jarmovitch

Jarmovitch, as the first year operator of the Elliot Lake franchise, said it never occurred to him to pack it in given what he and the Vikings were dealt way back in September.

“Could I have taken the easy way out back in September and took a leave of absence from the league for a season? Absolutely! But that thought never crossed my mind. Could our players who finished the season with us have packed it in and gone home? Absolutely!

“But that was not and is not who we are,” Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North. “I had every owner reach out and congratulate the players and staff for toughing it out this past season.”

Looking ahead as they prepare for the ’24-25 NOJHL season, one can only hope that the hockey gods are on the side of the Vikings of Elliot Lake.

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