One of two proposals for a junior hockey team in Collingwood would see a Tier II Junior A team serving as a farm team for the Barrie Colts.
David Steele is the president and one of the owners of the proposed Collingwood Colts team, and he said plans are already in the works from recruitment to coach interviews even though the town has not yet approved the proposal.
“We’re already proceeding with our preparation for next season," said Steele. "We’re looking at being a team in the league in the 2019-20 season."
Steele is sharing ownership of the Collingwood Colts with Howie Campbell (owner of the Barrie Colts), and Russel Urbanoski of Nutrafarms Inc. Steele said Campbell had been looking for a partnership to create a farm system for the Barrie Colts.
The Collingwood Colts, as a Tier II team, would be part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL).
“Essentially, it would be a development program,” said Steele. “Players that were drafted to the OHL Barrie Colts that are local to the greater Simcoe region would be placed on the Collingwood Colts, which would be the farm team, and they would be used as affiliate players for the Barrie Colts.”
Steele is also hoping to use his leverage as Stayner Siskins general manager to create an amalgamation of the eight Junior C teams in the Provincial Junior Hockey League Carruthers Division to feed Collingwood’s Junior A team.
“My expectation is that I’m going to work with the entire Junior C league, and as much as the Collingwood Colts would be a farm system for Barrie, they would be a farm system for Collingwood,” said Steele.
The Collingwood Colts are proposing to play and practice at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. Practices would be midday and home games would be on Friday nights.
He’s reached out to minor hockey leagues in town to talk about a Colts mentorship program and said there will be fundraising and charitable giving opportunities for local charities.
“Every resource of the Barrie Colts will be available to the Collingwood Colts,” said Steele.
Steele said there are currently nine hockey players from Collingwood on a roster for Tier II Junior A teams. There are six Collingwood players on the Siskins' roster and another eight from Penetanguishene.
“It shows they are capable … we will roster local players for sure,” said Steele. “The greatest focus of the Collingwood Colts will be development of Collingwood youth within the minor hockey system to give them an opportunity to have them play at a local (provincial) level.”
Junior 'A' hockey in the OJHL includes players aged 16 to 20 years old. The OJHL is a development league for Canadian University Hockey (CIS), the NCAA college system in the United States, the OHL, as well as European and North American professional leagues.
The town has not yet accepted the bid by Collingwood Colts.
A group including Terry Geddes, Andy Pritchard and Paul Jeffrey have also proposed a Junior 'B' team for Collingwood.
According to a news release issued by the Town of Collingwood in early January, staff is working with council to come to a decision on which proposal to accept.
Steele expects to hear back from the town in March.