The 'new' Niagara IceDogs team is starting to take shape, promises you will like what you see
The new owner of the Niagara IceDogs says the team will be staying put.
Majority owner Darren DeDobbelaer is taking over the OHL team, based in St. Catharines, alongside minority stakeholder Wayne Gretzky.
"I love the Niagara Region. There are13 minor hockey organizations in Niagara, there's two AAA organizations. A stone throw from the border, a stone's throw from the GTA."
DeDobbelaer, a Brantford resident, has served as President and General Manager of the Brantford 99ers (OJHL) and Brantford Bandits (GOJHL) hockey clubs.
He graduated from Brock University.
DeDobbelaer says he is sure fans will be very pleased with what they see moving forward from the IceDogs.
"Character and culture are number one for me. The people I bring in...everyone will see they are a class act. I will try to bring in people who will represent the city and the region very well. There is a cost to winning, and that isn't ruining a reputation."
Gretzky owns Wayne Gretzky Estates in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and his beverages are already served at the Meridian Centre.
Meantime, Daniel Fitzgerald has been named the 6th head coach in team history.
Fitzgerald spent the last four years as Head Coach of the Brantford 99ers in the OJHL.
Prior to that he served as the bench boss of the St. Catharines Falcons.
Fitzgerald says he is excited to get started, “I am honoured to be named the Head Coach of the Niagara IceDogs and I can't wait to get to work with our players and staff as we develop a winning culture.”
Further staffing announcements are expected in the coming weeks.
The team was sold to DeDobbelaer and Gretzky following the suspension of the former team's head coach and GM in April.
Joey and Billy Burke were indefinitely suspended by the Ontario Hockey League for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy.
The team was also fined $150,000 for an offensive WhatsApp conversation.
Joey and Billy were minority owners of the team, while their parents Bill and Denise owned and operated the team for 15 years.
The Burkes announced in May that they were selling the team pending approval by the OHL.
A dollar amount has not been released.