By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Dundas Blues Junior C hockey club is moving back to a community-run organization after almost six years of private ownership.
Blues president Mark Davies officially announced the move in an open letter posted on the team’s website and circulated to supporters. The move breaks the trend of junior hockey teams being privately owned in the Ontario Hockey Association.
“Essentially, we will be run by an Executive committee composed of residents of Dundas and its surrounding area,” Davies stated. “They will make all the decisions regarding the club, including hockey operations, promotions and community involvement.”
It’s a return to the Dundas Blues’ roots as a community-owned club, after Dan Caco of Stoney Creek bought the team in 2008. Dundas resident Ron Van Kleef bought the Blues in 2010. Van Kleef also owns the Ancaster Avalanche Junior B hockey club, which he moved from Stoney Creek last year.
“Community ownership does come with a price,” Davies stated in the letter. “We will be more dependent on your support than ever before.”
According to Davies, the club is working on “significant new sponsorship arrangements that will contribute greatly to the success of the team both on and off the ice.. He states more details on those developments will be released this summer.
The move back to a community-run hockey team comes shortly after an announcement from long-time Blues volunteer Steve Aglor that he plans to step back from his deeply involved role to a less busy position with the club.
Aglor is handing over general manager duties to Dan Fitzgerald, originally from Ancaster. Fitzgerald is also taking on head coaching duties with the departure of Mike Christian to the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs AAA club. Fitzgerald was general manager of the Port Dover Junior C hockey club last season.
Fitzgerald already knows several of the Blues’ returning players, because they are also from Ancaster - and has even coached at least one before, in soccer.
Aglor will remain with the Blues as Director of Hockey Operations, where he will provide advice and assistance to Fitzgerald, but will not be directly involved in day-to-day running of the team.
Fitzgerald said he looks forward to coming to a team that already has the community behind it. He believes the team will have a responsibility to that community.
“The fans will see their team, playing for them,” Fitzgerald said.
Aglor said the move back to a community-run team also helps ensure the Blues stay in Dundas – where they’ve been, in some form or another, for more than 50 years.
Aglor suggested a private owner could always relocate a junior team – as former Blues owner Ron Van Kleef did when he moved his Junior B Stoney Creek Warriors to Ancaster last season.
“We want to keep it in Dundas,” Aglor said. “We don’t have to worry about someone moving it.”
But the community will have to buy in to the new Dundas Blues plan – one that sets it apart from most Junior hockey teams, which are typically privately-owned rather than community-run.
“We need volunteers to make this successful,” Aglor said. “Whether they want to give a few hours or a lot of hours. That’s what you need to be successful as a community-run team.”