NOJHL approves sale of Soo Thunderbirds franchise

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and its Board of Directors, announced Friday its approval on the transfer of ownership of the Soo Thunderbirds NOJHL franchise to a group headed up by former National Hockey League defenceman Trevor Daley, long-time professional player Cole Jarrett, as well as Lee-Anne Jarrett.

Daley, a Toronto product, spent four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League on defence with the Soo Greyhounds before going on to a 16-year NHL career that saw him play 1,068 games.

Part of his successful run on the ice was being on two Stanley Cup championship sides with the Pittsburgh Penguins in both 2016 and 2017.

He also currently serves as a hockey operations advisor with the Penguins.

As for the Jarrett’s, both are Sault Ste. Marie products, and will join Daley as directors of the Thunderbirds.

Cole Jarrett will also assume the role as president of operations and head coach of the club.

A four-year OHLer, skating on defence with the Plymouth Whalers, Jarrett went on to play professionally for 15 seasons in North America, Europe and Asia.

As for Lee-Anne Jarrett, she has been the successful owner of her own photography business since 2013 and recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is beginning a career as a registered nurse.

Speaking on behalf of the new ownership group, Cole Jarrett offered: “We are extremely excited to be the new directors of the Soo Thunderbirds.”

“We would like to thank the NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca, and the league executive, for their efforts and support to make this transition possible,” Jarrett added.

For his part, Mazzuca welcomes the opportunity to work with another quality ownership group in Sault Ste. Marie.

“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,” stated Mazzuca.

“There is very little doubt they have the makings of being a very successful organization,” added the commissioner.

Mazzuca also took time to commend out-going Thunderbirds’ owner and team president Darren Smyl for his commitment to his club and the league.

“Darren has been an excellent member and partner with the NOJHL, he said. “We thank him, and his entire staff, and wish them all the best.”

Cole Jarrett echoed the sentiments of Mazzuca.

“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,” summarized Jarrett.

The new Soo ownership group has also announced the appointment of former Thunderbirds’ front office member Jamie Henderson, who will serve as the team’s general manager.

Henderson was part of multiple NOJHL championships with the Soo previously as well as Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A titles with the organization while being heavily involved in the hockey scene in Sault Ste. Marie for well over a decade.

Further updates will be announced by the club in the not-too-distant future.