OHL unfazed by void in T.O.

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Ten years after he helped get major junior hockey off the ground again in Toronto, Mark Napier couldn't help but feel a little wistful yesterday.

Napier was coach of the St. Michael's Majors when the club began its renaissance in the Ontario Hockey League in 1997.

Two days ago, the OHL approved the sale of the Mississauga IceDogs to Bill Burke, who will move the club to St. Catharines, enabling Eugene Melnyk to take the Majors to Mississauga.

Toronto is without an OHL club and there is no telling when, or if, there will be one here again.

"It's a little bittersweet," Napier, now the executive director of the NHL alumni, said.

"When the program started, we were pretty hopeful the team could stay in Toronto ... the biggest stumbling block was the arena."

The Majors told the OHLwhen they were becoming part of the landscape again that residence in the cramped St. Michael's Arena would not last past a couple of seasons.

The team did play some games in Maple Leaf Gardens, but under different ownership groups, a new arena could not be secured.

Has Toronto seen the last of the OHL?

"I don't think there is anything we are missing out on with not having an actual physical presence within the confines of Toronto," OHL commissioner David Branch said. "As a league we don't view that we don't have a team in Toronto. It's not only (area code) 416, but it is the 905 and the GTA.

"When you consider we have the Mississauga Majors, the Brampton Battalion, the Barrie Colts and the Oshawa Generals, we have this market more than well-serviced and we are comfortable with it."


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