As of now, three towns that housed Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League teams in 2013-2014 may not have a presence in the loop in 2014-2015.
Elliot Lake Bobcats are now the Cochrane Crunch.
North Bay Trappers are now the Mattawa Blackhawks.
Espanola Rivermen are leaving the NOJHL for the new Canadian International Hockey League.
Not that the NOJHL is necessarily done in Elliot Lake or North Bay, if you are to believe commissioner Robert Mazzuca.
Mazzuca has been trying to convince Town Council in Elliot Lake to have a financial stake in a new NOJHL franchise.
Mazzuca has been saying that there are groups interested in setting up a new NOJHL franchise in North Bay.
Well, we do give the man credit for talking a good game.
Because the fact of the matter is that the NOJHL has lost its 2013-2014 attendance leader from Espanola to the CIHL.
The fact of the matter is also that in 2012, the NOJHL lost one of its best-run franchises when the former champion Soo Eagles left for the North American Hockey League.
I have been a big fan of the NOJHL for years.
Truth be told, the direction the NOJHL has been taking has been making some folks — myself included — uneasy.
Mazzuca pulled off what appeared to be a power play two years ago when he convinced Elliot Lake owner-general manager-coach Ryan Leonard to leave the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League for the NOJHL.
Two years later, Leonard has left Elliot Lake for Cochrane.
A year ago, Mazzuca and the NOJHL welcomed the return of Espanola after a 10-year absence.
A year later, Espanola is leaving the NOJHL for the CIHL.
Does anyone see a pattern here?