When the 2021-22 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) season kicks off in the fall, there will be a number of new faces involved with the Soo Thunderbirds, though they're very familiar to local hockey fans.
The league announced Friday morning that it has approved the sale of the team to a new ownership group that includes a pair of former pro defenceman in Trevor Daley and Cole Jarrett and local business owner Lee-Anne Jarrett.
Daley is no stranger to hockey locally.
A veteran of 1,058 NHL games over parts of 17 seasons and a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Daley played four seasons locally as a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds.
Daley also currently serves as an advisor with the Penguins.
A Sault native, Cole Jarrett also spent four seasons patrolling the blueline in the OHL.
Prior to embarking on a 15-year pro career, Jarrett played over 200 games with the Plymouth Whalers.
Jarrett will take over as president of operations and coach of the Thunderbirds.
In a prepared statement, Jarrett said the group is “extremely excited” to take over the team.
He also credited the contributions of former owner Darren Smyl, who took over ownership of the team in March 2017.
“We also thank Darren Smyl for his commitment to growing hockey in Sault Ste. Marie and for allowing us the opportunity to continue the proud Thunderbird tradition.”
NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca had high praise for the incoming ownership group.
“We at the NOJHL were mightily impressed with the business plan and strategies put forth by Trevor, Cole and Lee-Anne in this venture as they look to continue on with the storied history of the Soo Thunderbirds franchise,” Mazzuca said in a prepared statement.
The team also announced Friday that Jamie Henderson will be taking over as general manager of the club.
Henderson served as general manager of the Thunderbirds during its championship season in 2015-16 and assistant general manager the previous season, also winning a league title.
Henderson was an assistant coach on the Thunderbirds’ championship team in 2011-12 as well.
Henderson, who has served as coach of the Sault’s Great North U18 League entry in recent years, will remain in that position as well next season.