Clock ticking on Espanola Rivermen

April 3, 2014

There is no turning back for the Espanola Rivermen.

In more ways than one.

For starters, the Rivermen are facing elimination in their second-round, best-of-seven, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoff series with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

Third-seeded Espanola trails second-ranked Kirkland Lake three games to none in the series, with the Gold Miners having defeated the Rivermen by 2-1, 2-1 and 3-2 scores.

When the season does end for the Rivermen it will also mark the end of what will have been a successful one-year stint in the NOJHL.

Besides placing a strong third during the 2013-2014 regular season, Espanola finished atop the attendance chart of the eight-team NOJHL with a per-game average of 526 spectators.

While the Rivermen will remain in Espanola after this season, they will be a part of the new Canadian International Hockey League effective the 2014-2015 campaign.

Rivermen owner Tim Clayden, who is the force behind the formation of the CIHL, has made no secret of the fact that his team is departing the NOJHL because of frustration and contempt with the way the league is being run under commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

Once they leave, the Rivermen will become the second team since 2012 to depart the NOJHL for another league under Mazzuca’s watch.

Soo Eagles left the NOJHL at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 campaign to join the North American Hockey League.

What you think about “Clock ticking on Espanola Rivermen”

  1. SUSPENSION NOTICE 2014-04-01
    # 16 BYRON SAM
    PERIOD AT 12:31
    Robert Mazzuca
    NOJHL Commissioner

  2. I wonder who wrote this less than two years ago…

    The revolving door of the commissioner’s office has stopped spinning.

    Robert Mazzuca has just completed his first season as commissioner of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and with his contract having been extended for two more years, the position finally has some sense, structure and stability to it.

    Not since the legendary Joe Drago was commissioner has the NOJHL been in the command of someone as firm, focused and progressive as Mazzuca, a Sudbury native who just turned 50-years old on May 13.

    Since Drago — a retired high school principal and erstwhile owner-general manager of the Ontario Hockey League Sudbury Wolves — left the NOJHL for subsequent executive positions with, first, the Ontario Hockey Federation and now Hockey Canada, the commissioner’s office had lacked stability.

    Since 2005, Art Yeo, Wayne Stickland, Mark Seidel and Hector Seguin all wore the NOJHL’s commissioner’s hat before Mazzuca was brought aboard last summer.

    Mazzuca, to be sure, has had a major impact on the NOJHL in less than a year on the job.

    Under his watch, the NOJHL has introduced a concussion safety program, anti-doping legislation and expanded its scholarship fund for the players.

    Mazzuca has also ruled with an iron hand, adding supplemental discipline to players tagged with automatic suspensions for dangerous infractions such as checking from behind. He also acted on evidence gathered by an independent, third-party investigator to dish out indefinite suspensions to two Soo Thunderbird coaches on the eve of the recently completed, Royal Bank Cup national junior tournament.

    Mazzuca’s savvy was evident in early January of this year when he worked feverishly to help save the NOJHL in Kirkland Lake after original ownership folded the franchise with little notice.

    Having sensed trouble with the original owner in Kirkland Lake, Mazzuca was front and centre in quickly setting up new owners with very little disruption to the 2011-2012 regular-season schedule.

    And just recently, Mazzuca played a major role in welcoming the well-run Elliot Lake Bobcats franchise to the NOJHL from the non-sanctioned, Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.

    Where does Mazzuca find the time to oversee the day-to-day operations of the NOJHL while working full-time as an investment adviser in Sudbury, where he also owns a number of properties?

    “I guess you can say I am well-organized and that I manage my time well,” said Mazzuca, who works out of an office that he affectionately calls the “bunker” in the Sudbury home that he shares with his wife and their four children.

    He’s also well-connected in the hockey world. He has a special relationship with Drago — who owned and managed the OHL Wolves when Mazzuca was the team’s star defenceman after being a first-round pick in 1979 — and has upper-level contacts in both Canada and the United States.

    Mazzuca, who closed out his junior hockey career in 1983 after being a late-season, over-age acquisition of the Soo Greyhounds, went on to play at St. Francis Xavier University, where he graduated before moving back to Sudbury, his hometown.

    Confident and personable, Mazzuca is also accessible and hands-on in his role as NOJHL commissioner.

    “I like to know what’s going on with all the teams in the league,” he told me. “The more I know and am aware of, the better prepared I can be and the fewer surprises there will be.”

    Mazzuca knows it’s not easy trying to please all members of the seven-team NOJHL and realizes that the tough decisions are not going to be popular ones.

    But he has the respect of the majority of the NOJHL governors, including highly regarded Abitibi Eskimos president Scott Marshall, who is the dean of the league’s power brokers.

    “He’s a very smart guy,” Marshall told me the last time we talked, a few weeks back. “Rob has been very, very good for our league. He’s given us a vision and a plan. He works hard at the job and takes it very seriously.”

    Overall, the NOJHL, it would surely seem, is in pretty good shape as it stands.

    Like any Jr. A hockey league — be it in Canada or the United States — there will always be problem areas, concerns and franchises teetering on existence.

    Grassroots is where the NOJHL is at and the majority of the seven franchises are stable, from Abitibi, North Bay and Kirkland Lake in the east to the Soo and the new kids in Elliot Lake on the west side.

    Sudbury and Blind River could change ownership before the start of next season and you can bet the commissioner’s office will be keeping tabs on what happens there.

    In other words, there’s no rest for Mazzuca from this so-called part-time job of his.

    1. I remember everything that I write, Mike.

      I also sign my first and last names to everything I write.

      As for the NOJHL, a lot has changed in two years, hasn’t it Mike?

      First Soo Eagles leave the NOJHL for another league.

      Now the Espanola Rivermen are leaving the NOJHL for another league.

      Feel free to call Soo Eagles co-owner/general manager/coach Bruno Bragagnolo and ask him what prompted his team to leave the NOJHL for the NAHL.

      You might note that I didn’t mention why the Eagles left the NOJHL in this current story.

      But since you got the ball rolling, I figured I might as well play along, Mike.

      Bottom line is that two-well run franchises have left the NOJHL for other leagues two years apart.

      You can’t change that, Mike.

      It is what it is.

  3. “Once they leave, the Rivermen will become the second team since 2012 to depart the NOJHL for another league under Mazzuca’s watch.”

    To be fair to Mr. Mazzuca, one should also note that under his watch, 3 teams entered the league (KL, EL and the soon departed Rivermen).

    1. That is not correct, Mike.

      Kirkland Lake is the relocation of the Manitoulin Islanders franchise.

      But if you want to be technical and say that KL came in under Rob Mazzuca’s watch, then Manitoulin also left under the same watch.

  4. Mike it’s time to call a spade a spade your “DAD” has simply not gotten the job done as the leader and has made each and every decision personal.

    I’d say time for a change but it may just be to late.

  5. way to stick it to “Mike” RR!
    We know who “Mike” is and we know what his self-serving Agenda is.

  6. Oh Mike stop kissing lord mazzucas butt.
    We get it you think this guy is the second coming he is far from that. This know it all Mazzuca didn’t even spell the Espanola player’s name who got suspended right – real smart guy you got there.

  7. I am appalled that KL felt the need to spend $500 to have Sam’s hit reviewed and get the kid suspended. The referee was standing right their and did not make a call. Couldn’t KL find something more important to spend that money on like a volunteer dinner, team dinner or a fan appreciation dance etc. etc. I thought KL had more class than that! Maybe TC should call for a review on Picard-Fiset’ when he horse collared dubchak at 90 miles an hour behind the net in the same game ( or the plethora of other missed calls !!!!) you’re up 3-0 in the series KL, did you really need to do this? #noclass

    1. Maybe he should have, I am actually surprised he didn’t, he probably would have got a suspension for JPF. And seriously, is there really a need to make comments on peoples’ family members, as chestypipes said #noclass

    2. Chestypipes :
      Are you kidding me? Did you see that hit?
      You got one thing right…the refs were standing right there and did not make a call. That, however, does not mean it was the right call! The refs made a mistake, and they missed many other calls that game…it went both ways. That hit by Sam was DANGEROUS and he deserved to be suspended.
      As for the no class comment, I’ll take that one step further : Quit your whining, as it only turned into a one game suspension. BTW, how’s Alex Martin feeling?

  8. I don’t need to contact Bragagnolo as Mr. Clayden publicly divulged earlier this week why the Eagles left the NOJHL.

    As far as the KL-Manitoulin, you are right. I am technically wrong. Under Mazzuca’s watch, Manitoulin relocated to Kirkland Lake. Turned out pretty good, eh Randy?

    1. Yes, the move from Manitoulin to Kirkland has worked out very well, Mike. Quite the astute observation on your part.

      Not nearly as good though, has been the Espanola situation, eh Mike? League leaders in attendance and they leave the NOJHL for another league after one year.

      Then there is the North Bay situation, eh Mike?

      Not to mention Elliot Lake to Cochrane, eh Mike?

      A lot sure has changed in a few years, eh Mike?

  9. Found this from the Sault Star, on why the Eagles left, basic logical reasons, nothing to do with the Commish, apparently…..just copied & pasted, did not alter.

    At a press conference in the Michigan Sault on Friday morning, the Eagles said the move is an effort to give players more scholarship opportunities and more opportunities to play in front of scouts from Division 1 and Division 3 colleges in the U.S.

    The NAHL is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the U.S.

    “It’s a matter of location. We’re going to be going down through Michigan to Illinois, into New York (State) and it’s easier for schools to come and watch us. The league is very well known at D1 schools in the United States,” says Eagles head coach, Bruno Bragagnolo.

    “The main thing is, it gives the boys more exposure to American universities. It’s just a fact,” he says.

    1. Not to argue with what was said in the Sault Star, tweetmaster. But Bruno Bragagnolo has been on my ESPN Radio “Hockey North Show” on multiple occasions and specifically said that “one of the main reasons we left the NOJHL is because of the Commissioner.”

    2. Oh, by the way, tweetmaster, check the date on the Sault Star story.

      Was it written while the Soo Eagles were still members of the NOJHL? You really think the Eagles would say why they were leaving while they were still members of the NOJHL?

      Come on man, get serious.

      At any rate, Eagles management has never been shy to tell me ON THE RECORD why they left the NOJHL.

      Maybe you just can’t handle the truth, tweet.

      1. not sure why you are jumping on me Randy, all i did was post something I ran across while looking for something else, never said it was the definitive reason for their leaving, all I said was, I found a sault star article that referred to the issue you and Mike were discussing, plain and simple , the article stated a reason or two, you dispute that, so be it. Don’t get your back up against the wall, unless you want to shadow box, because i am not fighting anybody.

  10. tweetmaster,

    Earlier this week, in writing, Mr. Clayden directly said that the Soo Eagles left the NOJHL because they did not agree with a suspension by Mr. Mazzuca of one of their players. His words, not mine. But that’s exactly the reason he claimed they left as he chastised the league and the commissioner (over the scheduling of tonight’s game I believe).

  11. IN my own opininon I believe Mazzuca is a tyrant and will continue to chase good hockey people out of the north!!! I also believe between that and his archaic way of thinking, the NOJHL is in big trouble under his leadership. I believe his few golden child franchises will thrive under his leadership and the rest will parish IMO of course!!!!!

    Everything makes sense now Mike….thanks for clarifying Birdwatcher!!!!

  12. As there is NO information on the NOJHL website on the constitution, executive, terms of office, meeting minutes etc can someone ANYONE tell me how you become the commissioner and how and when your “reign ” ends? Mike, could you ask your dad for a copy of the constitution perhaps and paste into this discussion? I’ve asked a few times, seems to be a difficult document to track down.
    I can’t even attempt to discuss the Sam suspension, it will send me to convulsions. There truly is no limit to what extent the commish will go to satisfy the golden boys. N othing short of sickening. Gross.

  13. To Chestypipes and Hockey Guy …..I checked fast hockey regards to Suspension look at fast Hockey time 248 57 . Anyways my Team is down 3 games to 0 and we lost 2 games in overtime and you don’t hear me crying. TAKE it like a couple of grown ups and stop being 2 big Wimps for God sake you guys are so negative towards everything that I wouldn’t want to be married to you.

      1. Espanola Eagle :
        Maybe you can clarify your comment that KL wins with no class? The players played harder and better than Espanola, end of story. The refs screwed up a handful of times…be honest, is that REALLY anything new? The sooner you realize that is the expectation, and not the exception, you’ll learn to enjoy GOOD hockey again. And all the political propaganda aside, this was a good series!

        On an unrelated note, I am sad to see Espanola leave the NOJHL. Personally, I believe all of Tim’s reasons at face value and I wish Tim and the Rivermen nothing but the best going forward.

    1. sticks and stones art1!!!! if you dont like what I have to say then move on!!! its very simple!!! If no one speaks up about a bully then it will continue forever!!!!

      PS you wouldn’t have shot with me anyways, I am way out of your league!!!!

  14. Vote for Peachy want to be new Commishoner

  15. Wow….sore losers or what? Get over yourselves and your whiny petulant behavior. I would say good riddance. I was always an Espanola fan until all this crying and complaining has taken over and now I am just embarrassed.

  16. Congratulations to the Soo Hockey team for having swept my Eskies and good luck the rest of the way. You were Gent ‘s on and off the Ice.

  17. Well the boys came up short but class was shown
    by Tom McCarthy even in a loss he will shake
    hands unlike someone last year. Anyways
    congrats to Sam Wilbur he was a great pick up
    for kl this year. To the NOJHL it’s been great
    so long and hopefully you can get a commissioner
    that will get things back on track.

  18. Wow RR – don’t think in all these years i have ever seen you this fired up ….

    Was there a non call in KL – certainly was – everyone saw it – but really people how many non calls happen each and every game – did it hinge on the outcome of tonights game – who knows – no one , cause if we did we would all be millionaires by picking the correct Lotto max numbers . Real and I mean REAL hockey fans are looking forward to a Sault/KL Final – because logically – these were the BEST two teams in the league this past season, and to all of you who hide behind your psudo names on this blog and on the canoe blog that Randy also still does for FREE , Man or Woman up – sign your FULL NAMES – perhaps where your from and what affiliation you have with your home club – or basically shut the hell up – the rest of us are trying to enjoy some hockey here

    Derek Callahan
    North Bay – originally from Virginiatown (next door to Kirkland Lake)
    Long Time fan of the NOJHL – but really losing interest because of all the BullSh*t that continues to go on here.

    1. Hi Derek, my patience for certain “fans” who try to twist my words and the words of others becomes rather thin at times.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your always-thoughtful comments.

      I had a glass of Italian vino last night and have since calmed down, lol.

      Regards as always, Derek.


  19. Nojhl fan how can you comment about his dad after he just said that his dad passed last year! Apparently some peeps are getting a litlle carried away!

    Sam is a marginal player at best and this wasnt his first mistake! dangerous plays and dangerous players need to be dealt with!

    If i was coaching a team that was headed to the finals and that kind of player, committed that kind of an offence, yeah, im asking for a review! I cant fault Lafleur for looking out for the well being of his players.

    1. You really think paying $500 for a review on Sam’s hit was money well spent when your up 3-0? I think that showed zero class by KL IMO of course ! I would have rather seen those funds allocated to a fan appreciation dance or a nice volunteer dinner, now that would make sense to me. But no lets blow $500 on a six minute player! #noclassatall

  20. What should Happen, Happened. After dominating the League all year and being in a class by themselves it’s only fitting that the Soo and K L meet in the finals. They were 1 and 2 all year and way ahead of the Rivermen and Eskies who fought for third position. Also not taking anything away from all teams the Soo & the Miners are probably the best run organization led by their great Managements.

  21. please stop with management, i think weve heard more than enough about management to last a lifetime! For the love of God, enough already, let be about the kids again! The game is played on the ice!

    your right about the teams tho, best hockey teams in the league all year!

    1. eskifan, sure, I will drop it but to be clear, youre right it should be about the kids and that’s my whole issue with some of my gripes with management. S ome of the decisions made this year by the commissioner were very clearly not about the kids and more about personal biases. Congrats to Kl on winning this series , it was deserved. May the best team win and catch you on the flip side NOJHL, I’m checking out.

  22. Hockey Guy: try and take it like a man and be one. The series was played on the ice fair and square and Lafleur and his Team produced — you now have ran out of excuses and KL has won.

  23. Hockey Guy :
    I hope you like golfing. I believe your predictions showed your little knowledge of hockey. At least your buddy Chestypipes is taking it like a good sport.

    1. I believe your attitude shows you are ignorant. How’s that you self righteous want to be hockey guru.

    2. Personally, I’m just waiting to see how bazooka will load the deck for his golden child Lafleur against the soo IMO of course!

  24. Hi,
    Now that the side show is over maybe we should concentrate on the hockey left to play . I agree with Derek , if you’re not willing to post your name and loyalties maybe you should stop attacking others . I posted here before as Mike but somebody else started using that so I will now use my full name . I am from Kirkland Lake and have never been officially associated with the Gold Miners . I helped them on a few occasions last season as I had done the season before when Bob Kasner had the team . I used to attend Eskis games in prior season when I could and count many IF people as friends . I have family who have been involved in the NOJ as far back as the Sturgeon Fall days and also involved in the GMHL recently . I spent a number of yeas with the Legion 87’s program and have been involved with hockey for 4 decades now . I have not attended a game this season for personal reasons but I know most involved with the team and hold them in high regard . I also have met just about everybody involved with each team in this league over the years and have found very few I didn’t like or respect . In the end the decision in Espanola has been made and the reasons are what they are . Lets stop the character assassinations of good hockey people because of some unfounded persecution complex . This is a business decision plain and a power play dressed up as a move to make players options better . It’s about money , and ego . As fans of hockey we get emotional about the game we love and the people who deliver it while forgetting it’s about money these days more than about the players or fans . Good luck to the Rivermen organization in their new venture . they have a great coach who cares about his players and I’m sure he’ll do all he can to make those on next years team better players and more importantly better people . I have a great deal of respect for Tom given what he’s been through as a person and how he’s handled himself as a coach over the years . To the fans , your time here is done , let the acrimony and vindictiveness go and start helping to build a pleasant atmosphere for your teams new adventure on their blogs and sites . Your opinions while welcome are no longer relevant to the fans of the remaining teams . We know how you feel and we do’t really care anymore . your ship is sailing , get on board and go enjoy your voyage of discovery to the new people and places that await .

  25. And no my buddy is fed up with morons like you. Sorry Randy but this guy is a waste of oxygen. As I know am consoling my 7 year old son as he knows his billet brother will be leaving.

  26. And now i can only assume that all those who attacked Mr Bownan and called him selffish, now know how involved he was in making hockey for kids happen in KL, will post their names and state their contributions to game, lol yeah right! Good job mannin up Mike and thanks for what you do for hockey in your community!

    Good post!

  27. Espanola Rivermen leave the NOJHL in the same way they came in with “Class” ….. and that is a credit to the entire organisation.
    I will miss the Espanola-Nickel Barons rivalrey as it produced some great games this season between the two Towns.

  28. I like this part by Mike Bowman…

    “This is a business decision plain and a power play dressed up as a move to make players options better . It’s about money , and ego .”

    1. It amazes me the number of people who are so JEALOUS of Tim Claydon & the Espanola Rivermen. This guys has a great new idea and you peeple just cannot stand it ….. can you?!?!
      My goodness you all grow up!!

      1. Well said Cassio and I for one will to miss the short road trips to Copper Cliff to play the Barons. Some people just want to live in the past as far as hockey is. When you live in the past you get left in the past. You never know there may be an Espanola-Sudbury rivalry anyways in the new league.

    2. Ask the Eskimos if they like this idea of business I am sure they will tell you the hockey business is not all roses.

  29. Need help here….If Espanola goes to a new league do the players remain property of the Rivermen no matter were they play.

    1. I believe I saw somewhere that in the new league all players will be free agents for the season. So what that means is a player that doesn’t like what’s going on with the organization or how they are being treating is free to leave at any time throughout the season. This will ensure a player first mentality in the league. So to answer your question no the Rivermen will not “own” the rights to the players moving forward but they are more than welcomed to join the team next year in the new league if they so choose.

  30. Thing is Hockey guy, the Eskis never looked at it as a business or money making venture, EVER! The VOLUNTEER board of directors to provide hockey opportunities for kids from the region and abroad, and to provide Hockey for the fans of region and to utilize North Eastern Ontario finest arena!

    For 15 years they did just that! It was never about making money for profits, rather it was about trying to raise money to grow the franchise and continue provide hockey for those players and fans! They did a fine job and never believed in charging kids to play hockey, and they never did, nit to play, or to be housed! it was all free FOR THE KIDS!

    But here is what they did do, made a couple of appearances in the league final, won a regular season championship, won a playoff championship on home ice in front of over 1800 fans, earned thier way to the central canada playdowns, few years prior to that they did a fine job of hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup! Advanced about a dozen players to major junior, another dozen to US colleges, some to canadian univerisity college teams, some to play semi pro! But if you ask the brass what they are most proud of, its helping kids turn into fine young men and into careers! The Abitibi Eskimos have given out over 250,000 in scholarships to Northern College, College Boreal and Unversity de Hearst! How many teams can say that? not many! Heck this club lost players because it worked so well, kids graduated from college and entered the workforce with still a year of eligibility left, and the team was proud of that!

    The Abitibi Eskimos never believed in charging kids to play hockey, they may well have played their last game, but i for one think what they done is fantastic, a selflesss bunch who did it all for the right reasons! They welcomed every new franchise with opened arms regardless of far away they were from Iroquois Falls, they helped those new franchises get on their feet and provided advise when needed! When things got more expensive, the volunteers worked harder and the fans stepped up!

    Please, dont refer the Abibiti Eskimos franchise and its hardships to the Espanola Rivermen and thier worries, two totally different animals!

    1. Yep like I said hockey has changed gone are
      the days of free rides does it suck, sure it does.
      We triple a midget players who’s parents are
      paying over $5,000.00 to touch the ice in total
      at least $20,000.00 a year. Officials costs go up
      ice costs go up etc…Is it true that the team
      if they leave will have to pay back the ice
      how in the heck are they going to do. I will
      say one thing your barn is nice. So eskis fan
      instead of black and white movies it is
      time to watch the future in color. I do hope
      though for your town that things do
      straighten out. I

  31. RR can you answer this question for me.

    Apparently Bracbridge and there township has no idea that the CIJHL is coming and that the GMHL has already made the trip up to talk to the town and they support keeping the GMHL there….

    Also I hear Bobcagin membership has been pulled by the GMHL?

    Any truth to this RR?

    Is that not two teams involved in the CIJHL?

  32. I think that the issue’s that some folks have with TIM CLAYDEN is that he speaks his mind and that he “dares to be different” and that is probly why RR likes him not trying to put words in your mouth RR thats just what I think.
    I think that Clayden is a sharp hockey GM and Owner who does what he thinks is right for his Players and his Team and I think that is his right to do so as he signs the cheque’s does he not.I think that Cassio say’s it best that therre are fans of other Teams and probly GM’s and Coach’s to who are jealous of Clayden and his succes’s and they just don’t like him because he has the balls to stand up for his right’s and what he believes in and these are just my thoughts and I am a Sudbury fan so there.

    1. Very well said deluxe hamburgers, I couldn’t agree with you more! But don’t worry I’m sure TC will make them eat every single word they say with his results in the future! I think the Rivermen community knows just how truly blessed they are to have this owner In their community and they show it by having the highest attendance in the league with a seven month old team!

  33. Eskisfan. no argument on what you say a very good Franchise, but your statement that it was never look at a money making Venture. How did you expect to pay your bills? Maybe if a Business plan could be completed and to charge players to play like other teams in the league Eskis could still be part of the NOJHL. Myself I would like to see the Eskis stay in the league.

  34. I do find it very intresting that 2 Teams have left the NOJ to join other Leagues in these last 2 years because of the Commissionor. You would think that the Commissionor’s job would be to keep the Owners of the Teams happy instead of pissing them off to the extent that they leave the League. Just sayin.

  35. The idea wasnt run to broke, but to continue offer a no cost program for the players. The economy of iroquois falls has changed for the worse, the demographics are aging resulting in fewer fans, and last year was a disaster in that the org let a weasel get a little too close to the chicken coup and it brought the club to its knees. Things were tight prior to that, but last year was the worst in franchise history and they never regained the fan base!

  36. Gentlemen ,

    If it was just a problem with the commissioner then the team governors would vote to oust the commissioner and search for a replacement . Apparently 2 didn’t like the direction the other teams chose for the commissioner to follow so they decide to leave . The other 6 have so far decided to stay the course and work together as a group to address the issues as best they can . I think those who chose to stay an work to fix things are just as deserving of praise as those who chose to leave and follow their own path . Hockey in Canada is in a state of flux for a number of reasons . Fewer players , higher costs , move to centralize talent for competitive reasons to name a few . Hockey Canada is the ruling body for the sport in this country and they take direction from the members who form the associations . They may be slow at adapting but the changes that are pushed for at the grassroots level are being instituted . Those who don’t agree with the direction are free to make their own way . We cry as a nation because we don’t dominate and demand less foreign content . When we get what we want we complain because we don’t have enough talent in Canada . We don’t have enough talent because we want fewer elite teams so we spend more resources on the best players , We have cut AAA programs , and tier 2 junior programs in Ontario the last 3 years . So we either work at attracting younger players and give them more opportunity to develop at a more reasonable cost and reduce the reliance on imports thereby improving our game or we allow more imports and stunt development of Canadian kids . Can’t have it both ways and can’t agree to wait for an acceptable level of content to work itself out . More imports in the new leagues will not increase opportunity for Canadian player nor will it increase the number of scholarships or major junior spots open . Hockey without borders and increased pay for play is a business model to make money in the sport not to increase development or opportunity . Will the hockey be better in a new league ? I don’t know but I’ve seen GMHL games and with a similar model using unlimited imports and 16 year old players it isn’t on par with the OPJ , the SJL , or the NOJ. As I’ve said before good luck to Mr. Clayden and his new venture . Time will tell who was right and who has the most success .

    1. I just don’t see how forcing kids before they are ready will help by filling roles on the teams. It is proven it will hurt their progress more than help it. You know yourself that if Hockey Canada is taking direction from the associations that the bigger ones are heard more than the little ones. Really the area up north has it good as these kids are somewhat plentiful. Also how can you argue with the Soo as they have one of the best minor hockey programs I have seen. Also Sudbury has a big number to draw from other than that it is very slim pickings. Sad but some of our AAA programs usually don’t stand a chance against southern teams. That being said once in a blue moon we get powerhouse teams but few and far between. So if the level drops to accomodate locals then wheat happens.

    2. Quick note to Mike, not all of us following this debate are “gentlemen” and I’m not referring to some of the less than gracious posts I’ m refering to the kinder gentler sex, nojhl fan is a hockey loving gentlewoman.

  37. Well said Mike , wish Mr. Clayden all the best in his new league but I will still be following the NOJHL as it gives our local kids a place to play without leaving home.

  38. Hey Hockey Guy
    It’s nice that you’re consoling your son now but in 10 years from now when mr Clayden tells you that if you don’t pony up 10 grand for him to play for the Rivermen because he has Russians, Americans, Check and Polish players willing to pay to play… are you going to handle that?

  39. Do you really want to keep this going?
    Who is going to console the fans of the Eskis.
    There are at least three teams in the NOJHL
    that are either bankrupt or in deaths door
    because of poor business models or loss of
    sponsors. I like how you seem to have the
    same thought as another no mind. Oh and
    for a group of supporters as yourself someone
    has made a fake account on twitter of the CIHL
    go figure when class comes from the bottom of
    the garbage can.

  40. Get ready for the press release coming out going
    to be a good one. I am sure that your “agent”
    buddy will be pleased as I am sure that he started
    the fraudulent account

  41. Oh and by the way Luc and your cronies
    I don’t aspire for my son to play junior or pro
    etc he will stay in house league and have fun
    and I will keep people like you away from him.
    I am dead tired of this shit as a minor hockey
    volunteer,hockey dad and billet parent Tim
    Clayden,Tom McCarthy and the Rivermen
    have been a big help to minor hockey in Espanola.
    So to you people that are trying to discredit
    everything enough crap already. I have been
    covering my identity to protect my home association
    but enough is enough. My name is Ross Nichols
    proud hockey coach and executive member so Luc
    and art and the rest buck up and list your names
    or as some one said earlier then if you don’t
    then shut it. Thank you and have a nice day

  42. Mattawa Black Hawks in the NOJHL – is this going to happen? I hear that Marcel Audette will be the new G.M.

  43. If you guys do a little research then you may realise that Luc is not the only one who thinks this CIJHL is another GMHL.

    more interesting facts:

    This World Hocky Prospects Camp in Barrie in May has as supporting teams, the likes of Zane Neilly of the NB Trappers/Mattawa Blackhawks, Peter Goulet of the CCHL’s Nepean Raiders, Marty of the Wellington Dukes, Aurora Tigers and a few more from the OPJHL.

    I can only surmise that they are using this camp as a way to attract some talent to their respective clubs as they do with the Chowder Cup in Bahsten.

    Question for you Randy:
    You don’t cover the GMHL as there is no banner at the top of this blog.
    Will you cover the CJHL for the good people of Espanola?

  44. Hey Tom from Detroit, I believe the moron per capita in the north is increasing daily! I can’t believe how far these people will go to discredit a PLAYER FIRST mentality league! I find it absolutely hilarious that some of these people are willing to fight tooth and nail about something that they completely do not understand or have completely incorrect facts on! I believe the people telling these guys what to say have hidden agendas and the poor lemmings don’t see that, IMO of course! Most of these guys should be putting this kind of effort into dealing with the problems at hand in their own barn and maybe take a step back and look in the mirror IMO !

    There were people who opposed abolishing slavery, there were people who opposed abolishing segregation, there were people against women’s rights, where would we be without the innovative thinking people that strive to make a good thing better? I know we wouldn’t have the classy elegant posts of a certain “gentlewomen” on here, eh nojhl fan?

    Just remember those who stir the $&£? Pot have to lick the spoon and I believe next year the line up at the pot will be very long.

    Please don’t hate that which you don’t understand! If you don’t like it you don’t have to be a part of it! But believe me when I say, I understand it and understand the truths and back the CIHL and their supporters, because I believe the players need to be put first! And I believe they will flourish in the CIHL on and off the ice as well as giving them the tools to succeed after jr hockey! Why would anyone have a problem with that? If you do have a problem with that then shut up and focus on the problems you have in front of you, not someone trying to fix them!!! Stop trying to discredit change for the good!

  45. Hey scout i read that article but it does look like some people are writing their thoughts. Oh well is the internet full of truths, no, you can really only believe a small percentage of what you read.

  46. Having a fake Twitter account pretending to be the CIHL is childish and just plain stupid. Any one who would stoop to such nonsense is an assh-le who should be ignored now. #NO BALLS.

  47. How things change in a very short time. Blog players that were saying that K L and their Coach Marc Lafleur were over rated etc…… just a short time ago, are now saying that they could win it all. After defeating a very decent team like Espanola in four they have to be given a small chance to win it all.

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