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OHA Expansion Update GOJHL

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OHA Expansion Update GOJHL November 22, 2012 8:01 AM

As TJHN reported on November 7th, the Ontario Hockey Association is going to expand, and the expansion application deadline was a busy one for OHA executives.

Twelve applications by groupss to join the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League were received by the OHA on the Thursday Nov. 15 deadline, according to expansion committee chair Bruce Schlitt. Groups representing cities selected to go on to the next step will be announced at the end of this week and the process will become more formal.

The twist was not so much that the OHA received twelve applications, but that they weren’t all from different communities. Some cities had multiple applications from different ownership groups. The question now is which groups competing in certain cities will win in the process. Who has the deepest pockets will only be one consideration.

According to some sources, more than one city is bringing NHL and other professional hockey connections to the table. The next step will be choosing which groups move on to a formal application process. That process will be kept under wraps though as the OHA is committed to keeping ownership groups and their bids confidential until the process is completed.

A formal application, which is standard for any new franchise, is where teams will have to go all in if they are interested in joining the league. Some could back out when they realize they can’t guarantee all the Standard Operating Procedures that teams currently have to meet in the league. Many groups may look to operate a junior franchise but are not aware of the actual costs of operating before they make the application.

As part of the Tomorrow’s Game blueprint, which is slowly being implemented into the OHA, the idea is to expand the GOJHL into four conferences, beginning next season. The new conference will encompass teams east of Guelph, spreading throughout the OHA footprint north to Barrie, and as far east as Kingston.

The only applicant known for sure at this point is Collingwood Ontario, who let it be known to the media they were making a pitch for a team.

Collingwood had an Ontario Junior Hockey League team in the past, until the end of the 2010-11 season when the team was lost to planned OJHL contraction. Locals Liam Willis and Thomas Webb, who both grew up in Collingwood are the proposed owners. Willis played minor hockey in Collingwood, and Webb played in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The pair have also enlisted expertise in hockey from a scouting and managerial perspective. Collingwood is also building a new arena that will be ready for 2013-14.

Brampton looks to be another obvious choice with the departure of the OHL Battalion. Brampton would also would make sense geographically for the GOJHL with is proximaty to Metro Toronto area and other teams in the league.

The OHA has previously said that the new conference would have to have at least six teams for it to be viable for next season. Rumor out of the OHA is that as many as eight may be approved. Twelve applications?Six to eight teams shouldnt be too hard to come by.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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