Junior hockey in Collingwood will have to wait another week before its ultimately decided on which team will call the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena home. The two ownership groups presented their proposals and had time to give speeches before the council members.

The Collingwood council was impressed and had questions for both ownership groups. The junior “A” ownership group spearheaded by Dave Steele and Howie Campbell both gave strong speeches that left a good impression on the four council members.

Dave Steele apart of the junior “A” ownership group had this to say during his speech, he was addressing the issue of sustainability if given occupancy of the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena.  “In order to address that, when we are successful with our bid, we will provide $175,000 to be held in trust by the town for the first 5 years of our relationship. We feel strongly that our junior “A” offer of Tenancy will align with the Town of Collingwood’s values of accountability, traceability and accessibility.”

junior A owners
(Left) Howie Campbell (Right) Dave Steele Junior “A” Ownership group

A part that likely intrigued the council members knowing that the financial backing would already be in trust should any hard times arise during the first five years of the tenancy. A strong showing from the junior “A” ownership group in wanting to insure sustainability for years to come.

Howie Campbell majority owner and President of the Barrie Colts also gave a speech during the meeting before the council members in Collingwood.  Barrie Colts owner has part ownership of the hopeful Collingwood Colts in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and he started his speech with this statement.

“No matter what happens here tonight, junior hockey will be back in Collingwood for the 2019 hockey season, and that is a great thing.”

Unfortunately no decision was made during the March 4th meeting as the four council members voted to move the decision before the full council, which will come in a week.

Howie Campbell went on in his speech to talk about the community involvement and he had this to say. “We are a big part of the community and we are committed to that. It did not just happen. It happened because we understand the importance of it and how to achieve it. And we will do exactly that here in Collingwood”.

The junior “A” ownership group had strong speeches and answered all the questions asked by the council members. The junior “B” ownership group could not say the same after this meeting.

The junior “B” ownership group is comprised of Andy Pritchard and Terry Geddes. The owners hope to have the team named the Collingwood Admirals, the group had one major question to answer, the encroachment rule that was given to all parties sent to the junior “B” bidders by the governing body the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) and the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF). These two associations are the head of all hockey in Ontario. They have stated there is an encroachment situation ongoing and should the junior “B” ownership group be approved there will be teams seeking to use the rule against the team.

junior b owners
(Left) Andy Pritchard (Right) Terry Geddes Junior “B” ownership group

One of the council members asked about this encroachment rule and what the junior “B” ownership group had to say about it. At that time Terry Geddes former Collingwood Mayor gave the answer, however the answer completely did not give any reason to how they would go about solving it. Instead Mr. Geddes went on about how it’s not right to continue to withhold junior hockey from Collingwood.

Mr. Geddes said this “It has been 8 years since we lost junior hockey and we are trying to bring junior hockey back to Collingwood, this shouldn’t be about the owners, and instead it should be about Collingwood having junior hockey back in the town”.

The ownership group has continued to act as if it will not comply with the OHA and OHF’s encroachment policy and therefore leaving a dark cloud over their bid. Should the junior “B” bid get approved they will still have to endure the process of dealing with the encroachment policy before being given permission to operate the proposed expansion team.

This means even more hurdles for the hopeful owners and leaves uncertainty whether or not they will be able to have a team located in Collingwood. The decision will be made next week on which group will receive the rights and lease to the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena.

In my opinion the favorites would be the junior “A” ownership group of Howie Campbell and Dave Steele. Although it is possible that the former town mayor Terry Geddes still has some pull within the council and that may give them an edge heading into next week. We will wait a little longer until we find out.