With the long-awaited start of the 2021-22 OHL season comes a slew of new faces, rules and looks. Let’s take a look at what’s new this year:
Bench boss shuffle
Alan Letang steps behind the Sarnia Sting bench this season and Greg Walters fills the void left in Owen Sound. Todd Miller takes over head coach duties in Oshawa, Jay McKee returns to the OHL to head the Hamilton Bulldogs while and former assistant Luca Caputi steps into the Kingston Frontenacs’ head coach role. A former member of the club, Craig Duncanson has been named the Sudbury Wolves’ new bench boss while fellow League alumnus Marc Savard has stepped behind the Windsor Spitfires bench. The Flint Firebirds will be under the guidance of new head coach Ted Dent.
Other Familiar faces making their return to the OHL include new Barrie Colts head coach Marty Williamson, who previously held OHL coaching positions with Barrie and Niagara between 2004-2016, and new Ottawa 67’s bench boss Dave Cameron, whose previous highlights include coaching positions at the OHL, NHL and international levels.
“To come back to Barrie and to lead the Colts and to have Dale on my shoulder, it’s an exciting time for us.”
Marty Williamson will be thinking of his good friend Dale Hawerchuk as he makes his return behind the @OHLBarrieColts bench.
READ 🗞️: https://t.co/xX69IpkcHE pic.twitter.com/2roLlk9kk8
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) September 29, 2021
“We’re going to continue the culture here of being a team that plays fast, plays hard, a puck possession team.” – Coach Cameron
— Ottawa 67’s (@Ottawa67sHockey) September 2, 2021
— Jay McKee (@JayMcKee74) August 18, 2021
Head Coach of the @SpitsHockey I’m very excited at the new opportunity that awaits my family and I in Windsor. The game has given me so much knowledge I hope I can help these young men become NHL players if not great people know matter what they do in life. #goSpitsgo
— Marc Savard (@MSavvy91) August 25, 2021
Dort Financial Center, home of the Flint Firebirds, underwent a $2-million renovation that begun late last year and included the installation of almost 4,000 black vinyl seats and new LED ribbons. GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie also went through $1-million enhancements that include a new video board, a secondary OES hockey scoreboard, a new hockey control room and upgraded lighting around the perimeter and above the ice surface. The Peterborough Petes welcome the season with a new state-of-the-art video board.
It’s absolutely breathtaking 😍
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) October 6, 2021
Introducing Kirsten Welsh
The League recently announced its roster of 105 officials for the 2021-22 season and welcomed Kirsten Welsh as its first ever woman linesperson.
A graduate of Robert Morris University women’s NCAA hockey program and the Whitby Wolves Women’s Hockey Program, Welsh attended the NHL Officiating Exposure Combine this past summer and became one of four women to officiate at the NHL level for the first time, working in the Buffalo Sabres’ pre-season prospects tournament held at the LECOM Harborcenter. She also worked the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 event at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, MO.
First game in the books, and #OHL history made!
Congrats Kirsten Welsh, who worked alongside referees Stephen Hiff and Jason Faist along with line partner Justin Herrington in her big debut 👍 pic.twitter.com/0oT6z16JDD
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 1, 2021
The OHL introduced the following new off-side rule:
- A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with the blue line, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line. On his own side of the line shall be defined by a “plane” of the blue line which shall extend from the leading edge of the blue line upwards. If a player’s skate has yet to break the “plane” prior to the puck completely crossing the leading edge, he is deemed to be on-side for the purpose of the off-side rule.
Check out the 2021-22 OHL Rule Book.
This year will mark the first hockey season with OHL Director of Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Rico Phillips on board. Phillips, founder of the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program and past winner of the NHL’s prestigious Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, was appointed the role in July of 2020.
The OHL announced this past summer the introduction of a lottery process to determine the order of selection for the top four picks of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. The four teams finishing outside of a playoff spot in the OHL regular season standings will have an equal chance of securing the first overall selection through a randomized draft lottery process to be held following the conclusion of the regular season schedule.