The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) Annual General Meeting wrapped up this past weekend with conference re-alignment and a new Board of Directors highlighting the agenda, along with the announcement of three new ownership groups (pictured - Outgoing Directors from left to right: Larry Playfair, Buffalo Jr. Sabres; Ted Nishi, Georgetown Raiders; Carlo Coccimiglio, Oakville Blades; Brant Snow, North York Rangers; Al Doria, Vaughan Vipers; missing-Tim Clayden).
The OJHLs on-going contraction program, with a reduction of membership to 23 clubs for next season, saw the Board of Governors make changes to the both the divisional and conference alignment for the 2012-13 season. Using Yonge Street as a general guideline for dividing the conferences, the new layout now sees the North and East Divisions forming one conference and the South and West Divisions forming the other conference.
Divisional alignment is as follows:
North Division: Aurora Tigers, Lindsay Muskies, Markham Waxers, Newmarket Hurricanes, Stouffville Spirit
East Division: Cobourg Cougars, Kingston Voyageurs, Pickering Panthers, Trenton Golden Hawks, Wellington Dukes, Whitby Fury
South Division: Mississauga Chargers, North York Rangers, Oakville Blades, St. Michael's Buzzers, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Toronto Lakeshore Patriots
West Division: Buffalo Jr. Sabres, Burlington Cougars, Georgetown Raiders, Hamilton Red Wings, Milton Icehawks, Orangeville Flyers
Due to the odd number of teams (23), the Governors were faced with the challenge of putting together an unbalanced schedule that will be based solely on Conference alignment with no weight given to Divisional opponents. The regular season will feature a 55 game schedule with each team playing 27 home games, 27 road games and one Governors Showcase match-up against a Conference opponent.
Also restructured for 2012-13 is the OJHL playoff format, which will now see the top eight clubs in each Conference continue on to post-season play. The number one and number two seeds in each Conference will be given to the first place finisher in each Division. The preliminary round from past seasons will now be eliminated and all series will be a best-of-seven format.
OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy commented on the difficult decisions the Governors faced with re-alignment, Re-aligning the league is a process that the OJHL has dealt with for the past couple years due to the success of the leagues contraction program. While always a contentious issue around the table, the league will now strike a sub-committee whose sole purpose will be to research potential alternatives and their impact on member clubs and the league as a whole moving forward.
Once completed, the Governors were struck with the task of forming a new Board of Directors following the expiration of the current groups two year term. The structure of the Board of Directors was also amended to a five person group from its current structure of seven.
The new OJHL Board of Directors are as follows:
Chairman - Scott McCrory Whitby Fury
1st Vice-Chair - Marc Mercier Cobourg Cougars
2nd Vice-Chair - Stuart Hyman Hamilton Red Wings
North-East Director - Ken Burrows Stouffville Spirit
South-West Director - Rob DeVincentis Milton Icehawks
While we are excited for the future of the OJHL with the ratification and election of our new Board of Directors, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank our out-going Directors for their dedication and service over the past two years, said OJHL Chairman Scott McCrory. Tim Clayden (Trenton/Aurora), Carlo Coccimiglio (Oakville), Al Doria (Vaughan), Ted Nishi (Georgetown previous Chairman), Larry Playfair (Buffalo) and Brant Snow (North York) all have spent countless hours dedicating their time to the betterment of the OJHL, and have been the driving force behind many of the changes that have taken place recently.
Along with the newly elected Board of Directors, the OJHL officially announced ownership transfer of the following franchises:
Georgetown Raiders - Bill Court
Oakville Blades - Lina Song & Ira Berg
Pickering Panthers - Steve Tuchner
Taking over the storied Raiders franchise, Court is excited for the future, It is with great pleasure that our family has the opportunity to be part of the long and storied tradition of the Georgetown Raiders. We look forward to being part of the Raiders community and its continuing success.
New Oakville majority owner Lina Song echoed Courts comments regarding her purchase of the Blades, We are very excited to be the new owners of the Oakville Blades. We are looking forward to continuing the great tradition of the Oakville Blades and the OJHL.
While in Pickering, new Panthers owner Steve Tuchner looks to revitalize the once great franchise, I am excited about driving improvements with the Pickering Panthers and building a team that the entire community can support. I also look forward to being a strong partner within the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The 2012-13 OJHL season already looks to be one of the most exciting in league history. Look for a number of new initiatives to be announced over the course of the summer that are another step toward helping make the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the League of Choice!