Smyl explains Bird exchange

Randy Russon
April 30, 2021
Darren Smyl

Local businessman Darren Smyl said he was not looking to sell the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

But Smyl, who had rescued the Thunderbirds from the verge of folding in 2017, said once he was approached by Trevor Daley and Cole Jarrett about buying the local NOJHL team, a deal gradually came into being.

“Since I took over the Thunderbirds four years ago, I had been approached a number of times about selling the team,” Smyl told Hockey News North. “But when it came time to meeting the league’s minimum asking price for a franchise, nothing ever came about.

“Then, I would say about two or three months ago, Cole and Trevor approached me about buying the team. We met and we talked a few times and then about two weeks ago, they called me and said they were prepared to put in an offer for the asking price,” Smyl continued. “After that, it was just a matter of having our lawyers finalize things and then (commissioner) Rob Mazzuca and the league approving it.”

As was first reported by Hockey News North early this morning, Daley and Jarrett have officially taken over as the new operators of the Thunderbirds.

Smyl said he did make one request of Daley and Jarrett when finalizing the deal.

“I asked them if they would keep the Edmonton Oilers colours (orange, blue and white) for at least another year and they agreed,” laughed Smyl, who is originally from Edmonton and is a life-long fan of the National Hockey League Oilers.

Smyl added that he has grown fond of the NOJHL as a league, noting the “great relationship” that he has with the commissioner’s office and the league executive. And he said he hopes to be able to maintain an affiliation with the league.

“I love hockey, you know that, and I really like the NOJHL. And I told Rob (Mazzuca) that if the league could use my assistance or input in any way I would happy to assist in a voluntary capacity,” he noted.

A one-time winner of the NOJHL’s executive of the year award, Smyl’s local business interests include him being the owner of both Highland Ford and Rivercity Motorsports.

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