Everything old becomes new again for Huskies turned Reps turned Huskies, News (Hamilton Huskies)

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Oct 01, 2012 | admin | 3316 views
Everything old becomes new again for Huskies turned Reps turned Huskies
Scott Radley
Hamilton Spectator
Wednesday Sept. 24th, 2012

Walk into the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena and you’ll find a photo of the rink’s namesake as a youthful-looking 14-year-old in his red and white Hamilton Huskies uniform.

For most kids and teens in the area, it’s an unfamiliar look. Because, in the early 1990s, the Huskies became extinct, replaced by the Reps, a name that frankly sounded technical rather than fearsome.

Well, the circle of hockey has completed its rotation. The Huskies are back.

“It’s our roots,” says Mike Spadafora, a vice-president, tournament chair and a head coach with the organization.

The history of the team name predates the Canada-Soviet Summit Series we’ve been reading and hearing so much about in recent days. Back in 1971 during the later years of the Police Minor Hockey system, the Huskies were created. When the Hamilton Minor Hockey Association joined the Hamilton Minor Hockey Council in 1988, the Huskies brand became the AAA arm of the organization.

Over the next nearly two decades, guys such as Andreychuk, Derek King, Steve Staios and Adam Mair wore the red maple leaf with white H on their chest.

But, as happens sometimes in youth sports, conflicts arose. Not just in this city.

“There were hockey politics issues that went on,” Spadafora says.

Shocking, right? Politics in hockey?

Anyway, the group covering players in the old city of Hamilton broke away from the OMHA and joined the newly formed Alliance. When it did, the Huskies teams representing it were renamed the Reps.

The move wasn’t seamless. While a number of strong teams have worn Reps colours over the subsequent years, there have also been challenges. For a number of reasons — Spadafora points to a dwindling player base in the inner city and economic disadvantages as two — the OMHA’s Junior Bulldogs, who draw largely from the suburbs, became a provincial powerhouse, while a fair share of Reps teams saw less success.

“In past years, the Bulldogs have been the better of the two if you look at winning percentages,” he acknowledges.

Over the past while, though, the idea of going back to the Huskies kept getting bounced around in meetings and during informal discussions with players and parents and coaches at the rinks. Finally, during a board meeting last November, someone — Spadafora can’t remember exactly who — asked the question: Why aren’t we the Huskies?

Things took off from there. Basically, a return to the group’s foundation was seen as a way to launch a reboot of the entire organization.

A new, modernized logo was designed, a new website was constructed and new uniforms ordered. A new attitude was also created, he says.

Go to that new website and one of the first things that jumps out is a running organizational win-loss record in the top corner. There’s no hiding from results now. Charting how the Huskies as a group are doing and whether things are heading in a positive direction is right there.

He says this is one of the ways they’ll monitor improvement over the next three to five years, which he says is the time frame in which he expects to see significant change.

The return to the past has been met with almost unanimous approval. A number of the current players’ parents played as Huskies and are glad for the continuity, even if it was interrupted for a time.

As for that other organization against which his is always compared, Spadafora says he doesn’t give it much though. He says his group isn’t in competition with the Bulldogs. They draw from different geographic zones and have different challenges. He merely wants the new Huskies to offer the best opportunities for its players

That said ...

“If that makes us better than the Bulldogs, we’ll take it.”

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