New commander in Cochrane

August 21, 2020
Tom Nickolau

Memorial Cup champion and National Hockey League draft pick Tom Nickolau is taking the reins of the Cochrane Crunch of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

The 54-year old Nickolau has purchased the Cochrane franchise from previous owners Ryan Leonard and Katherine Leonard.

Nickolau, who was a member of the 1986 Ontario Hockey League and Memorial Cup champion Guelph Platers, also holds the distinction of being an NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings.

As he prepares to make the move from the Greater Toronto Area to Cochrane for the next NOJHL season, Nickolau has confirmed that he will be the president, general manager and coach of the Crunch.

In announcing the ownership change of the Cochrane franchise to Nickolau, NOJHL commissioner Rob Mazzuca noted that “we are confident that Tom’s efforts will bode well for Cochrane, both on and off the ice.

“Competition in the NOJHL has been tremendous the past few years and we expect much the same, right across the league, when play returns,” added Mazzuca.

Since his own playing days ended, Nickolau has built up an extensive background in the game featuring over 20 years of experience in coaching, much of it in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

As a forward, his OHL time in Guelph featured three seasons totaling 91 points in 148 games including the Platers championship season on 1986 under future NHL coach Jacques Martin.

In heading north to Cochrane, Nickolau noted that “I am really looking forward to getting up there, being part of the community, with its dedicated fans and corporate partners as we look to build a solid program that will be among the elite in the highly-competitive NOJHL.”

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Ryan Leonard is a Sault Ste. Marie product who was the original owner of Cochrane’s NOJHL team and served as the general manager and coach of the Crunch.

Leonard is now the GM and coach of the Renfrew Wolves of the Central Canada Hockey League, having taken on those roles at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

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