Multiple sources are telling me that the Spanish River town of Espanola could once again be home to a Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League franchise.
Espanola mayor Mike Lehoux and Colin Wilson of the town’s Economic Development department have been looking to attract an NOJHL team to the hardworking town of more than 5,300, which is located about 135 miles east of Sault Ste. Marie and approximately 45 miles west of Sudbury, at the junction of Highways 6 and 17.
Espanola is home to a 13-year old arena complex that comfortably seats about 700 people for hockey.
NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca, when asked about the possibility of Espanola joining the seven-team league, said discussion of any matters as such are considered confidential. Mazzuca did note that Espanola “has a very nice facility that is suitable for junior hockey.”
Espanola has been home to previous, failed junior hockey franchises, both in the NOJHL and the non-sanctioned, Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.
But Mayor Lehoux has been active in searching for a suitable, established owner to partner with the town in operating an NOJHL franchise.
Indeed, sources are saying that the very-reputable Tim Clayden, who owns the NOJHL’s North Bay Trappers, has had discussions with Lehoux, Wilson and Town of Espanola Manager of Leisure Services Dianne Polden about the possibility of moving his franchise to Espanola for the 2013-14 campaign.
Clayden offered a polite “no comment” when asked if he was considering moving his NOJHL franchise from North Bay to Espanola. Like Mazzuca however, Clayden did say that Espanola “has a nice arena that could be a nice fit for an NOJHL team.”
The NOJHL’s Trappers are facing an uncertain future with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League moving its franchise to North Bay effective the 2013-14 season.
North Bay is regarded as the NOJHL’s flagship franchise and has led the league in attendance for each of its previous 10 seasons.