Blades Name Lonnie Hamilton New GM

Shortly after the Blenheim Blades Provincial Junior Hockey League playoff run ended March 2 longtime general manager Wayne Cowell stepped down from his position and the search for a new GM began.

The search has ended with the naming of Blenheim resident, and team vice-president and assistant GM, Lonnie Hamilton to take over a key role with the team effective immediately.

Hamilton, who has extensive hockey experience on the minor hockey level, will now be looking to transfer that experience to the Junior level.

Hamilton played his minor hockey in Bothwell, Junior ‘C’ in Alvinston, college hockey in London and Senior AAA in Bothwell before coaching the Bothwell Peewees to an Ontario title in 1989.

He has since coached Chatham Cyclone AAA teams over two periods – 1995 to 1997 and 2012 to 2016 – as well Canadian Under 15 regional teams from 2014 through 2016.

He also coached at the Alliance All Star Minor Midget showcase event in 2016.

Now moving up a step, and away from being behind the bench, Hamilton said, “the Blades are a class organization that has total support of the community. The plan is to try to follow the tradition and the reputation that has been created by attracting quality players that are respectful on and off the ice.

“I believe that the character of the team is essential to be successful on the ice, and also to be role models to the local kids that idolize these players on the ice and away from the rink.

“The Blades have a very solid reputation that has been built up over decades. My goal is to continue building on this model so that players want to jump at the chance to play in this community.

“My on ice goal for the organization is quite easy to define, but will be a big challenge to achieve. We want to compete with the top teams in the league year in and year out. I believe that the team is moving in that direction and I will work extremely hard to continue this.

“This organization has a great support system that will help guide me through challenges. There are also a lot of very knowledgeable hockey people in the Blenheim community and area that I would like to reach out to, and hopefully bring to the organization to be involved in some type of capacity.

“I have gained a lot of hockey contacts in the Chatham Kent area over the past five or six years, and I believe that I have a good understanding of the prospects over the next few years. There are a lot of talented local players in the near future which makes it exciting to be moving in to this position.

“I would like to thank the Blades executive for this opportunity and I will promise to work hard for this organization.

Cowell, before coming GM six seasons ago, began his Junior hockey playing career with the Blades and later was an assistant coach on the 1994-95 team that went to the Great Lakes league final.

As GM Cowell’s teams have made it to the league semi-final the last four seasons and finished in one of the top four positions each year.

“I would like to thank the Blades for accepting me in their organization six years ago, but after 39 years of taking care of other people’s children I figured it was time to take care of my family now,” said Cowell as to why he had stepped down.

“I have grandchildren playing and I want to be there for them.

“It has been a pleasure working with all the people in Blenheim. It’s a class organization that boys should be proud to be part of, and who knows, maybe my grandson will play there someday.”

Blades president Matt Frain welcomed Hamilton to his new position saying, “Lonnie has a great knowledge and contacts in the hockey world, which made it an easy choice to change his role from vice-president and assistant GM to general manager.

“The Blades executive is looking forward to working with Lonnie in his new role as GM, and will step down as vice-president of the hockey club.”

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