The Board of Directors of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced today the continuation of the league-wide strategy regarding the reduction of the number of teams competing within the league. The Collingwood Blackhawks, Dixie Beehives and the Orangeville Flyers have all been decommissioned by the league and will cease operations. This extensive process now brings the total number of OJHL teams that have decommissioned to nine since the 2009-2010 season. Last season the league was successful in reducing the number of teams by five, going from 36 to 31 clubs. This year’s process has allowed the league to contract from 31 to 27 teams. These nine teams represent a reduction of an unprecedented 25% of the total membership of the OJHL.
The OJHL Board of Governors made a unified commitment to improving the quality of play within the league in 2009 by developing an extensive and voluntary contraction program, that teams could choose to take part in, helping to reduce the 36 team league to 24 - 26 teams.
“The OJHL Board of Governors took the extraordinary step last season with addressing one of the major concerns within the league, which was the number of teams,” said OJHL Commissioner, Marty Savoy. “There are a number of areas that the OJHL Board recognized that needed to be addressed in order to drive league-wide improvement. The Board made the strategic decision that reduction of teams was an area that would drive the greatest impact on the improvement for the league. Through the leadership of the member clubs within the league, we have been able to develop a voluntary process that has seen an incredible 25% reduction in teams in just two years,” Savoy stated.
“The OJHL is undergoing a transformation that will make it the premier Junior A league in Canada in terms of quality of play and the future opportunity for its players,” stated Collingwood Governor, Darrell Mussell. “While Collingwood has been a long term member of the junior level of hockey, the resources and commitments necessary at this time just are not available and we want to support the OJHL in achieving its goals for the betterment of Junior A hockey in Ontario,” Mussell said. “The OJHL and the Blackhawks came to a decision that it is in the best interests of both the team and the league to discontinue play as of the end of this season.”
"The OJHL has worked very hard over the past few years to establish a template that will not only reflect it being the largest Junior A league in Canada, but also through mergers and contraction, it strives to continue to create the best league in the country,” said Dixie Governor, Grant Furlane. “Dixie supports these initiatives as less teams in stronger communities will only strengthen the league. I think the league is in good hands and would like to thank all the support of the other owners, league volunteers, sponsors, parents, fans and most important the coaches and players.”
“The OJHL has gone through a tremendous amount of change since I first got involved with hockey at this level,” said Orangeville Governor, Nick Vassos. “The league has never been more united with all teams working together in building the number one Junior A league in Canada. This has allowed the league to address the main issue with the level of play, too many teams. Although I have made the decision to move on from the OJHL I truly feel that through the current leadership in place the league is heading in the right direction,” stated Vassos. “I would like to thank all of our fans, volunteers, sponsors, staff and players for the dedication and support over the years.”
The league will be moving forward with a dispersal process for the distribution of all players of decommissioned teams. Full details on this process will be announced in the coming weeks.
With over 70, NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III, CIS and CHL commitments thus far in the 2010-2011 season, the OJHL continues to provide a development opportunity for young athletes to strive for excellence in the pursuit of their education and hockey aspirations.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)