This year, Marty Williamson encountered Windsor Spitfires GM Warren Rychel and extended his hand in a friendly greeting.
"There was a second I wondered if he would pull his hand back," the Niagara IceDogs GM and head coach said.
Hey, there had been some highly publicized history.
At the end of the last OHL final, former Spits coach Bob Boughner and Co. refused to shake Williamson's hand because they blamed the then-Barrie Colts boss for drafting Rychel's son Kerby.
The debate divided the league into those who thought Williamson committed a mortal sin by breaking an unwritten rule and others who felt Rychel should've picked his kid when he had the chance.
In the end, the Colts traded Rychel to Mississauga and now he's back at home in Windsor. Under the new rules, Barrie received a compensatory first-round pick.
The league isn't discussing changing the already mangled compensation rule.
Rychel, after all was said and done, shook Williamson's hand.
"It was one of those cases where family and business mixed together," Williamson said, "but it wasn't intended to be a personal slight to Warren and the Spitfires at all."
Still, it helped add paint to an unflattering picture of Williamson as a major OHL villain.
"I hope some of the stuff said and written about me has been blown out of proportion," he said with a grin. "I think 'most hated guy in the league' is a little strong."
There was a botched-up trade with Kitchener involving goalie Mavric Parks, now with Saginaw, that went public.
There was Williamson loading up the Colts for an OHL title run by dealing for Niagara's Alex Pietrangelo, then jumping to the team where all the young parts and draft picks went for a five-year term.
He never missed the playoffs in six years with Barrie. And when the team was an underdog, it still managed to win a round.
"I did everything in my power to stay in Barrie," he said. "It just didn't happen. The negotiations broke down."
He wanted multiple years to build back the Colts, now in last place and under Dale Hawerchuk's watch. He inherited the IceDogs, a contender this season with fortunes looking bright next year.
"We're pretty happy with the way things are going," Williamson said, "but there are no guarantees. There's always more work to be done. I never thought the team we had in Barrie would lose four straight in the OHL final (to Windsor)."
Niagara needs a new 'Dog house in St. Catharines to replace aging Jack Gatecliff Arena. Williamson sees some promising news coming in the next few months of the on-going struggle.
He's also chipping away at that reputation as a first-rate antihero. That'll take time.
The Rychel handshake is a start.
AROUND THE O
Strangest stat in the OHL: The Peterborough Petes, currently out of a playoff spot, have the best road power play in the league. At home, though, they're a mediocre 14th ... Breakaway artists needed: Stan Butler's Brampton Battalion have a league-high six shoot-out losses so far this season. Last year, the Troops had a league-high seven defeats in the skills competition ... Pretty spectacular what Colin Behenna is doing in Barrie right now. The smallish 19-year-old from Waterloo has 22 goals 60 points for an eight-win Colts team. Plus, he stays on the ice: He has a mere 35 penalty minutes in 156 career games ... Seven of the OHL's top 10 rookie scorers are European. The top three -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk and Windsor's Alex Khokhlachev -- are Russians ... Would've bet the farm Oshawa's Christian Thomas was leading the league in game-winning goals. He has an impressive six. But Ottawa's Ryan Martindale and Mississauga's Devante Smith-Pelly weigh in with seven apiece ... Two-thirds of the season in and still, no one can figure out the Guelph Storm. They get buried in Belleville Saturday night, then shock the Ottawa 67's with two goals in 20 seconds in the final minute to win Sunday. It is one of those coin-flip teams where you wouldn't be surprised if it made the Western Conference final or missed the playoffs altogether ... The same prohibited substance that cost Plymouth's Alex Aleardi and Saginaw's Ryan O'Connor eight games -- methylhexaneamine -- was found in Western Hockey League player Spencer Asuchak of the Prince George Cougars. He'll sit eight games, too.
THE BOOK ON...
Jarred Tinordi, D, London Knights
The big son of former NHL D-man Mark Tinordi spurned a U.S. scholarship at Notre Dame to come play for the Hunters in London this year. The Montreal Canadiens first-rounder went through a tough stretch to start, but has started to turn the corner to become one of the Knights' most trusted D-men and back end leaders.
G PG A PTS PIM +/-
40 0 5 5 86 -4
Strengths: When he stands a forward up at the blue line, watch out. He has a knack for the open-ice hit. "It's all about timing," said Tinordi, who grew up watching Ray Lewis play linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. And boy, Tinordi gets in some entertaining fights.
Weaknesses: Offence. He's still looking for his first OHL goal. "Sure, it'd be nice to get one but that's not my main job," he said. Shutting down guys is the No. 1 priority.
RATING OUT OF FIVE * * * *