NOJHL at the crossroads

January 27, 2014

As rumours of relocation and franchises in financial difficulty swirl, the small-to-medium market Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League soldiers on.

An eight-team league that this season features a two-team battle for first place and a three-team saw-off for third, the NOJHL is again faced with adversity and questions of its stability.

But really, that is nothing new in an all-north league which is seen franchises come and go with regularity over the past decade.

The NOJHL has also had its share of commissioners over the past 10 years, five in total, including current head honcho Robert Mazzuca.

Still, the NOJHL has survived, thanks in a big way to operators who have dug into their pockets to keep their teams and their league afloat, men such as Albert Giommi in Sault Ste. Marie, Tim Clayden in both North Bay and Espanola, Ryan Leonard in Elliot Lake and Mike Mooney in Sudbury.

Is change coming the way of the NOJHL for the 2014-2015 season?

Most likely.

But change affects most leagues, especially at the junior level.

Take a look at the Tier 2, United States-based, North American Hockey League, where in the past few years franchises have departed Marquette, Detroit, Traverse City, Kalamazoo, Jamestown, Texas and Fresno and arrived in Flint, Coulee Region, Sault Ste. Marie and Johnstown, not to mention parts of Minnesota.

Even the mighty Ontario Hockey League has seen its share of relocations over the past few years, with franchises affected in Toronto, Brampton, North Bay and the Niagara area.

Change happens.

And not just in the NOJHL

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