Collingwood’s junior hockey team is in talks to continue next season under the Colts banner, and as an affiliate of Barrie's Ontario Hockey League team by the same name.
Dave Steele, owner of the Collingwood Colts, who play in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), confirmed his team has a one-year lease for the name, which expires this year.
He’s in talks with the Barrie Colts for another lease agreement to continue using the brand next year, and also to keep working with the Barrie team to share resources and as a farm team.
“It’s worked well,” Steele said of the agreement.
There are a few levels of the agreement. First, the Collingwood Colts share the brand and name “Colts.”
Second, they are affiliated with the OHL Barrie Colts, meaning they will take players signed to the Barrie Colts and develop them as players on the Collingwood Colts roster. Steele said there are currently two Collingwood players actively playing on the Barrie Colts roster, and five who are eligible.
“We have a relationship where we develop players close to Barrie for them,” said Steele.
Because of this affiliation, Barrie’s coaching and management staff will sometimes attend Collingwood practices and games to scout and consult on their players.
Currently, such players include goalie Matteo Lalama and forward Vladislav Dvurechenskii — a Toronto native who scored one goal in six games with Barrie after being called up this season.
Steele said even if the negotiations don't include the Colts name for the 2020-21 season, the agreement could include an affiliation with the Barrie Colts and could see Collingwood maintain its farm team status.
“They are separate discussions,” said Steele.
He said it’s possible the Collingwood Colts could adopt the same name as Collingwood Minor Hockey once that name is chosen.
The minor hockey franchise is dropping the Blackhawks name this year and will skate under a different name for the 2020-21 season.
“If we can’t come to terms with the Colts brand, it would be nice to support minor hockey,” said Steele, adding it hasn’t come to that consideration yet as negotiations are still ongoing for the Colts brand. “It’s not a factor yet.”
The Collingwood Colts owner said his team has been supporting minor hockey in the Georgian Bay already, through mentorship. He was involved in the interview process to hire the coaches this year for Collingwood minor hockey.
Steele also gives free tickets to one minor hockey team (girls and boys) each Collingwood Colts home game.
He said the Collingwood Colts’ support of local minor hockey is part of the reason the team enjoys a big home crowd.
Currently, the Collingwood team is number one in the province for home game attendance.
“You can’t get much better than that,” said Steele. “We’re pleased with it … We have a young team and we’re doing really well in our first season and a lot of that has to do with the home crowds cheering them on.”