By Brandon Sudeyko
The NOJHL is a burgeoning league, which is funny considering that the Jr A league has been around since 1978, well a few years before but as a Jr A league, it was 1978 where the NOJHL story begins.
Rayside-Balfour gained the Canadians this season after the Nickel City Barons folded and were relocated around the town of Azilda, which is just outside of the city of Sudbury.
In the past, Rayside-Balfour has hosted many successful Jr A teams in the NOJHL. Most notably the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats, who won 7 consecutive league championships and 3 Dudley Hewitt Cups from 1995-2002, the franchise also lost in 5 straight finals from 1987-1992. Impressive 15 year run making it to the finals 12 times. Not many Jr franchises can have that kind of longevity. Also, the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats history is not associated with the Canadians franchise. The direct lineage with the Canadians goes to the Sudbury Nickel Barons, the Cups, Jr. Wolves and the Northern Wolves dating back to the year 2000.
But to the issue at hand now, the Rayside-Balfour franchise has a new owner. Adrian Gedye. I can’t recall if I have met the man face to face before, but I have conversed through various correspondence and he appears to be a good man. I haven’t had any poor interactions with him and you could expect that given the nature of his day job. A player agent/adviser with Uptown Sports. The man represents quality prospects from the age of Bantam up to the NHL. You may recognize a lot of the names on his list, heck if you check out his feed on Twitter you will find out some of the names that he represents.
At first thought this is going to be a disaster. How can you have a player agent for a large agency own and run a team that won’t be bombarded with fringe players because they don’t know where else to play. What kind of favours will he make just to put certain players on the team? Will this team be able to sustain any type of success with a potential revolving door of one and done players.
Or you can be completely positive about this transaction.
Again, I do not recall meeting the man face to face and I have no horse in the race as evidenced by any of the writings that are published.
But this could be one of the best things to happen to this league since current NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca decided to come back as commissioner of the league.
You have an owner who has some big pockets, resources at his disposal and a lot of ties to Northern Ontario. There is a lot of untapped hockey potential up north and given the state of the Sault Ste Marie minor hockey system as well as the Sudbury minor system there is a lot of players who may not have the chances that most Southern Ontario programs can offer. This can lead to a lot of hidden gems getting a huge chance and actually shine, not flounder. These types of transactions can really lift up a league and given the roll that the league is on, this just adds to it.
In the past 4 seasons, the league has expanded from 7 teams to 12. The commitment list to the NCAA has grown; development has improved sending more players to the OHL and overall elevating the standard of the league to a respectable choice for players of Southern and Northern Ontario and across the nation.
If Gedye says he will infuse youthful prospects into his team, buying up/trading for extra 16 year old cards to put a maximum of 4 on the ice; use the connections to bring talent to Ontario to make an exciting and competitive team; use outside resources to help gain exposure for his team, the opposition and the league as a whole…. Then I say welcome aboard… not that I am on the official welcoming committee or anything.
Gedye made his first move as an owner bringing in a new coaching staff. Looks like those years working with Stu Hyman and the Hamilton Red Wings have already paid off. Daryl Moxam is the new head coach and Dave Clancy the new GM. Don’t know those names? That’s ok, the NOJHL does as both were recently assistants with the Laurentian University Voyageurs hockey program and prior to that, the duo helped coach the Sudbury Jr Wolves to a Dudley Hewitt Cup appearance, so there is a history of success with these men.
To recap, the new owner quote unquote ‘runs the north’ when it comes to hockey prospects, has resources for on ice and off ice transactions and improvements, declares he wants to suit up four 16 year olds this year and has but successful coaches behind the bench of a team that once had a 15 year run of success spanning over 2 decades the last time the town hosted a team… yeah I would say this can work…
And if you are still asking yourself one vital question about this Hockey Owner and Player Agent… I asked him that question and I quote, ‘yes (still represent players) but nobody currently in the league.’