Intention and commitment are not synonyms.
Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League commissioner Rob Mazzuca may want his trusted followers to believe that intention carries the same meaning as commitment but surely even he knows that can’t be true.
Through his NOJHL communications office, Mazzuca issued a press release on Wednesday stating that Sudbury Nickel Barons, Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds have “reaffirmed commitment” to the league for 2014-2015.
The press release followed a column I wrote on Tuesday which stated Mazzuca had solid support from the east side of the NOJHL, namely Cochrane Crunch (formerly Elliot Lake Bobcats), Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, Abitibi Eskimos and Mattawa Blackhawks (formerly North Bay Trappers.)
My column also stated that Sudbury, Blind River and the Soo will confirm their status at the NOJHL’s June 20-22 annual general meeting.
I have been told that Mazzuca reacted to that by issuing a press release the very next day in which Sudbury, Blind River and the Soo were urged by the commissioner to pledge their allegiance to the NOJHL.
To be sure, it is rather interesting that the press release only mentioned the three teams — Sudbury, Blind River and the Soo — that were deemed as not being as securely tucked into Mazzuca’s hip pocket as management from Cochrane, Kirkland Lake, Abitibi and Mattawa are.
At any rate, while Sudbury, Blind River and the Soo may have stated their “intention” to be a part of the NOJHL in 2014-2015 — that does not equate to a commitment.
As I stated in my Tuesday column, I expect those three teams to reveal their status at next month’s AGM.
Why was Mazzuca so quick to react to my Tuesday column to make sure there was a press release issued to state commitment from Sudbury, Blind River and the Soo?
I am guessing that is because he has some concerns about the three franchises and whether current ownership/management will remain in place.
I believe that two of the three franchises in question are privately for sale with asking prices that range between $40,000 and $60,000.
And that is a secret that Mazzuca wants to protect and doesn’t want out there for fear of showing a chink in the armour of the NOJHL.
Which is fine.
Part of what Mazzuca does deals with propaganda and word-play. And it works for him.
At the end of the day, the thinking here is that the NOJHL will operate with at least seven teams in 2014-2015, maybe more.
Mattawa may be on the iffy side to some — but not fearless owner David Beauchamp, who has proclaimed that the Blackhawks will definitely be a part of the NOJHL in 2014-2015.
As for Elliot Lake, the word is that there is a 50-50 chance the NOJHL will retain a presence there in the form of an expansion franchise for 2014-2015.
So, all appears to be well within the micro-managed NOJHL.
And I have to hand it to Mazzuca.
He is a smooth operator who writes a good press release and talks a good story.
PHOTO: NOJHL commissioner Rob Mazzuca, at a recent City Council meeting in Elliot Lake.