As many people know, the NOJHL is one of my favorite leagues in Canada. Its close to my home, and I count many of the people involved at the league level and within its member teams my friends as well as colleagues.
It was only three years ago that the NOJHL stood at seven teams. Seven teams three seasons ago, and the reputation of a second class Junior A league that didn’t develop players as often as the other Junior A leagues in Ontario. Strange how much can change in three years, isn’t it?
The NOJHL is developing players for the OHL, NCAA D-1, NCAA D-3, CIS, and the ACHA at a rate that accelerates with each successive season. The reasons for why are pretty easy to see.
It is a word that defines the NOJHL from an league office management standpoint, as well as the Owners, General Managers, and Head Coaches that are gravitating toward the NOJHL.
The league offers structure. While some may complain that it can be too strict at times, at the end of the season, those complaints are largely left behind as simply part of competition from the preceding season.
Structure means the enforcement of policy and procedure. Drug testing, concussion testing, and other protocols now being adopted by other Hockey Canada leagues were developed and implemented in the NOJHL first.
With people like Marc Lafleur, Kevin Cain, Moe Mantha, and Tom McCarthy leading the development of franchises, good things are bound to happen. Add in the return of Bruno Bragagnolo and the Soo Eagles, and there is no wonder why talent is migrating to Northern Ontario.
From nine to twelve. The NOJHL is growing not only in size, but in how its seen by higher level leagues. The greatest statement that can be made about any league is in how many players it moves on.
Opportunity. Its something that some people often miss out on. If the NOJHL presents you with an opportunity to play, don’t make the mistake of trying to look beyond that opportunity because the scouts are making it known that the NOJHL is no longer a league of relegation, it is now a league of opportunity and choice.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher