Though some final details remain to be worked out, it appears almost a given that the NOJHL Sudbury Nickel Barons will be relocating to Chelmsford for the upcoming 2015-2016 campaign.
"Nothing is in stone yet, and there are still some issues that we are working on, but we are optimistic that we will get it done," acknowledged current team owner Mike Mooney on Saturday.
If in fact the move comes to pass, as most believe it will, safe to say that the re-birth of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians touches close to home for Mooney and his family.
"I played my junior hockey there," noted the man who took over the franchise from Bill Scott in the summer of 2012. "My dad bought the team from the town in my third season there. When I came back from school, I started coaching the midgets, and coached the Canadians in their final season as the Canadians."
"My brother was on that team," Mooney continued. "The thought of it obviously brings a smile to my face, playing there, and growing up in the area." In their tenure as the North Stars, Cubs, Jr Wolves and Nickel Barons, the Sudbury junior "A" franchise has generally played home games on Wednesday nights, though that appears likely to change.
"We're trying to get Saturday nights as our primary night, Sunday as the alternate," said Mooney. "I don't know that weeknights work that well with younger kids, and we're trying to incorporate minor hockey into the equation."
With attendance at most Nickel Barons games at the McClelland Arena hovering around one hundred people or so, much of which represents family and friends of the players in any given year, Mooney is looking to Chelmsford as falling more in line with traditional junior hockey host towns province-wide.
"The fact that it's actually in a community that has a minor hockey system that actually exists within the community is helpful," said Mooney. "Copper Cliff Minor Hockey is an extension of Sudbury Minor."
"People just drive into Copper Cliff, go to the rink, play, and then leave Copper Cliff," stated Mooney. "We're hoping to get people of Rayside-Balfour to back their hometown team, like you see in other junior "B" hockey markets."