As the Sudbury Wolves celebrate 50 years in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the team’s owner says the franchise will stay in the northern Ontario city.
“The Wolves are a team that was started in Sudbury and will remain in Sudbury,” Dario Zulich told CBC News.
“The Sudbury Wolves are part of the spirit of our community and I respect that.”
In a written statement to the media, Zulich said his “commitment to Sudbury is unwavering.”
The statement followed Zulich’s comments at a news conference, during which he said the team would be playing in a new arena “very soon.”
“As the owner of the Sudbury Wolves, I want the players, the fans and all the people of Sudbury to enjoy our brand of hockey in a new events centre, not a refurbished arena,” he said in his statement.
“The location of that new facility within Sudbury, be it in the east end, downtown or even south end, is not my decision to make. It is a decision of council.”
In July, Sudbury city council unanimously voted to reject a proposed $215-million budget for an arena and event centre located at the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED), effectively ending the city’s involvement with the project.
The Wolves remain at the 70-year-old Sudbury Community Arena for now.
A storied history
While different versions of the Wolves have existed since the 1890s, the modern team joined the OHL in 1972.
In those years, it has produced future NHL stars like Randy Carlyle, Marc Staal, Nick Foligno and, most recently, Quinton Byfield, who was selected second overall in the 2020 NHL entry draft.
For the 50th-anniversary season, Zulich said the team will have commemorative jerseys marking the milestone.
Zulich also invested in a new high-definition video board, which he said will be the most modern one in the Canadian Hockey League.
“I went physically as big as possible. I love it,” he said.
Zulich said he remembered going to games as a kid, and even seeing Wayne Gretzky play in the arena.
While he was a bigger basketball fan growing up, he said he has learned to love hockey and looks forward to the upcoming season.
“We have the talent that will take us deep into the playoffs this year and even further next year because we have such a young team,” he said.
Scott Miller, author of the new book Leading the Pack: 50 years of Sudbury Wolves History, agreed the team could make a strong playoff run this season.
Miller said the team has been a part of Sudbury’s identity for most of the city’s history.
“I think the Wolves are one thing, maybe along with mining that have pretty much remained constant throughout, and I think that’s why they’re so important to so many people here,” he said.