Rumours and suppositions of expansion and relocation are whirling and swirling throughout the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Multiple inside sources are confirming that governors and executive members from the eight-team league have loosely exchanged and formally discussed expansion and relocation related to towns in Ontario, Quebec and Michigan.
Ontario towns that have been mentioned as possible landing spots for the NOJHL either through expansion or relocation are Cochrane, Sturgeon Falls, Timmins and Huntsville. Also on the potential NOJHL growth chart are the Quebec town of Temiscaming and the northern Michigan towns of Alpena, Marquette and St. Ignace.
Sturgeon Falls and Temiscaming both housed NOJHL teams in the past and are currently members of the non-sanctioned Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.
Among the possible scenarios, sources are suggesting that Sturgeon Falls would become the new home of the North Bay Trappers, the Abitibi Eskimos would shift from Iroquois Falls to Timmins and Huntsville would fold its Jr. C team to allow the NOJHL to operate in what is Ontario Hockey Association territory.
Should the Trappers move to nearby Sturgeon Falls and partner with the owner of the current Greater Metro team, North Bay could potentially still have a team in the NOJHL under the ownership of the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.
Should the Michigan centres of Alpena, Marquette and St. Ignace get necessary permission to set up in the Canadian-based NOJHL, it would be as expansion teams.
Current NOJHL member teams are Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers, Elliot Lake Bobcats, Espanola Rivermen, Sudbury Nickel Barons, North Bay Trappers, Abitibi Eskimos and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
Expansion and/or relocation for 2014-2015?
To be sure, there is considerable talk about NOJHL growth going on within the board rooms. And while it’s true that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words, it has also been stated over time that where there is smoke there is often fire.