Commitment. Lots of people talk about commitment in junior hockey. Players commit to teams, coaches commit to systems and teams commit to developing players and moving them to the highest levels of hockey.
Ryan Leonard exemplifies the definition of commitment to junior hockey and the players he works with.
Leonard, is the owner of the Elliot Lake Bobcats franchise and also its coach and general manager. Saturday afternoon he announced that the NOJHL team will be moving to the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane Ontario next season. You read it right, Owner, Head Coach and General Manager. Not only is it his money on the line as the owner, but its his time, effort and commitment to the players in an every day operation.
The Tim Horton Event Center is a state of the art facility in Cochrane Ontario offering state of the art training facilities, a pool, as well as an ice arena offering stadium style seating. The Tim Horton Event Centre, can easily seat 700 fans and during the World Under-17 Hockey Championships more than 1,000 fans filled the facility.
With all amenities located on site, this location made a lot of sense for the team. Being familiar with the facility made it that much easier when making the decision.
“Cochrane is the place that we set up when we come up to play the Abitibi Eskimos,” Leonard said. “It was the closest hotel lodging when we come up and we had an opportunity one day to practice in the facility, then we got talking to some people and the next thing you know here we are, our team is in Cochrane, Ontario.
Just a few weeks ago, Leonards team played a game in Cochrane. Drawing a paid crowd of 503 fans for a game that did not feature a local team was a great sign of what may come in the future.
The Cochrane Rush, of the Timmins Midget Hockey League, call the Event Center home as well. Having a built in AA Midget program developing players that can eventually move on to play for the Crunch makes a lot of sense for the team and players.
The decision to move from Elliot Lake was not an easy one for Leonard.
“We have been there for seven years. The community has been great, and the fans have been great. We didn’t take this decision lightly. In the end though, it was a move I felt would be best for the organizations growth, and I hope someone else can go into Elliot Lake and pick up where we are leaving off.”
The City of Cochrane is getting a team that is performing well on the ice and in the community.
Commitment. Leonard is committed to his organization like few others are in junior hockey. The Cochrane Crunch will exemplify that commitment level to the City of Cochrane starting next season. One has to believe that commitment level will lead to continued success for the team, the city and the NOJHL.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher