The arrival of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League in Cochrane effective the 2014-2015 season should have a major impact on the community, according to the town’s mayor and the owner of the team.
“We are absolutely excited, it’s part of a build and development program in the community that we have been part of for the past three years,” mayor Peter Politis said of the relocation of the Elliot Lake Bobcats to Cochrane.
“This is a status position that we have been trying to achieve and we have achieved it. It’s not only good for Cochrane, it’s good for the entire region,” Politis told a recent media assembly.
“We are going to be playing home games scattered throughout the region, as far west as Hearst and far south as Temiskaming Shores and Timmins to build an audience and to continue to drive the region towards this team,” Politis added.
“The junior hockey club will not belong to the Town of Cochrane, it is private enterprise that is run by a private entrepreneur and in this case by somebody who is renowned for looking after his business in a way that is community oriented and respectful of all the other entities that are there,” Politis continued.
Ryan Leonard, owner-general manager-coach of the Elliot Lake team that will be moving to Cochrane, put his own numbers on some of what the community can expect from his hockey team.
“Dollar wise, when you are bringing 20 kids to the community that is bringing 20 more cars to the community, that’s $50 a week per car in fuel being spent at your gas stations, plus vehicle repairs,” said Leonard.
“The bus that we own, that is another $500 to $1,000 per week spent in fuel in the community.
“You bring kids in who might still be in high school, that hockey player who is not from your community is now into your school system and now your school system is getting more dollars for that student. If you get seven, or eight new hockey players that’s one more full-time teacher in school.
“The cycle just keeps on going, where money comes into the school and people just don’t see it, but the biggest thing is bringing these players in. They are getting $400 per month for room and board with the families they live with. You take $400 per month, times 25 players, times eight months, you do the math, that’s $75,000 to $80,000 being spent in local grocery stores in the area just to feed these kids. And that, in itself doesn’t cover most of these kids because they can really eat,” Leonard added.
That is good news as far as Politis is concerned.
“One of the reasons that we are comfortable with this direction, as a municipality, is Ryan Leonard himself,” Politis said. “I think we have one of the best entrepreneurs in the NOJHL, somebody who understands community involvement. He hasn’t pushed people away and is extremely good in bringing people in.”
Leonard confirmed that the transplanted Elliot Lake Bobcats will be known as the Cochrane Crunch.