Seeking to emerge from the depths of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, the Blind River Beavers have hired a former Ontario Hockey League first-round draft pick as their new coach and general manager.
43-year-old Brad Barton takes the helm of the Beavers after having spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
A first-round pick, fifth overall, of the Kitchener Rangers at the 1988 OHL draft, Barton was a hard-hitting defenceman who went on to play in 294 career games, playoffs included.
He played four full seasons with the Rangers under coach Joe McDonnell, who is now the director of amateur scouting for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League. Barton finished his OHL career as an overager with the Kingston Frontenacs before going on to play six seasons in the minor-pro ranks after being a 10th-round, NHL draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks.
In taking the dual role of coach-GM in Blind River, Barton assumes control of a Beavers outfit that went winless during the 2014-2015 campaign in posting an abysmal record of 0-55-1, regular season and playoffs included.
Barton is looking ahead to the challenge that awaits him in Blind River.
“The NOJHL has made great strides the past number of seasons and I look forward to working with the board, the town, our players, fans and corporate partners as we look to bring the Blind River Beavers back to being a valued and competitive member of our league,” said Barton, who hails from Uxbridge, Ont.