By Matt Stefano
There is now a new ownership group taking over the bird nest.
The Nothern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Soo Thunderbirds have announced today that former NHL defenceman Trevor Daley, along with former OHL defenceman Cole Jarrett and his wife Lee-Anne, will now be the new leaders of the franchise.
Daley and the Jarretts will take over as the new franchise owners, replacing team owner and president Darren Smyl, who spent four years with the club from 2017-2021.
Cole Jarrett, a former OHL defenceman with the Plymouth Whalers, will also serve as the new team’s president and head coach.
Toronto, Ontario native Trevor Daley spent four seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds from 1999-2003, where he put up 59 goals and 188 points in 216 career regular season games.
Daley, who entered the OHL as a 15-year old in 1999, led all Greyhound blueliners in scoring during the 1999-2000 season with 16 goals, 30 assists and 46 points.
Despite being the youngest player on the team that season, the Toronto, Ontario native also had the best plus minus (+28) among all Greyhound players.
That season, Daley also helped lead the Hounds to the OHL’s Western Conference final.
In his sophomore season with the Hounds in 2000-2001, the Toronto, Ontario native finished second in team scoring with 41 points (14g and 27a) in 58 games.
Then, in this third season with the Hounds in 2001-2002, Daley scored 9 times and had a career-high 39 assists in 47 regular season games, before going on to be drafted in the 2nd round (43rd overall) by the Dallas Stars in 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Daley, who then wore the “C” on his chest during his final season with the Hounds in 2002-2003, set career highs in goals with 20 and points with 53 in 57 regular season games.
Following his four-year OHL career with the Hounds, Daley then went on to have sixteen-year career in the National Hockey League from 2003-2020, where he split time with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
Daley also went on to win back to back Stanley Cup titles as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2016 and 2017.
The 37-year old, who just retired from the NHL in 2020 as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, now serves as a hockey operations adviser with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
NEW JARRETTS IN THE NEST
In the past, the Soo Thunderbirds have had three players on their team that had the last name Jarrett.
Those players were Patrick Jarrett (1999-2000), Blair Jarrett (2001-2002) and Drew Jarrett (2004-2006).
And dating back to the club’s inaugural season in 1999-2000, the Thunderbirds were also coached by Bart Jarrett, who was the club’s first coach in franchise history.
But now, there are two new people with the last name Jarrett who will be taking over the franchise as they prepare for next season.
Those two Jarretts are former OHLer Cole Jarrett and his wife Lee-Anne.
With the departure of head coach Denny Lambert following the 2020-2021 season, it was announced today that former OHLer Cole Jarrett will be taking over behind the bench with the Thunderbirds for the 2021-2022 season.
Jarrett, 38, played four seasons on the blueline with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers from 1999-2003.
During his four years with the Whalers, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native scored 43 times and set up 108 others in 226 career regular season games.
Jarrett, who entered the OHL as a 16-year-old in 1999, scored 3 times and set up 7 others in 57 games during his rookie season with the Whalers in 1999-2000.
In the year 2000, Jarrett also helped lead the Whalers to the Ontario Hockey League final, where they ended up being eliminated in seven games to the Barrie Colts.
During his sophomore season with the Whalers in 2000-2001, Jarrett led all Whaler blueliners in scoring with 12 goals, 36 assists and 48 points in 60 regular season games.
That season (2000-2001), the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native also helped lead the Whalers all the way to the OHL final for the second consecutive year, where they were eliminated in six games to the Ottawa 67’s.
Following his second season with the Whalers, Jarrett then ended up being drafted in the 5th round (141st) overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
In his third season with the Whalers in 2001-2002, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product scored a career-high 14 goals and set up 24 others in 51 regular season games.
His 38 points that season were also the most among all Whaler defencemen.
Then, in his final OHL season with the Whalers in 2002-2003, Jarrett scored 14 times for the second straight season and set career highs in assists with 41 and points with 55.
Despite coming up short twice in the OHL finals in 2000 and 2001, Jarrett still helped the Whalers win a couple Hamilton Spector Trophy titles (OHL Regular Season Champions) in 2000 and in 2002.
Jarrett, who has now been a retired hockey player since 2018, also suited up for one NHL game with the New York Islanders back on April 18, 2006.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product played his final season of professional hockey with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants back in 2017-2018, where he helped the club win the EIHL championship title.
Cole Jarrett is also the older brother of former Soo Thunderbirds forward Patrick Jarrett, who played with the Thunderbirds back in the 1999-2000 season, before being selected first overall by the Mississauga IceDogs in the 2000 OHL Priority Selection.
HEADS UP FOR HENDO
Yes, he used to be the Thunderbirds general manager back in the 2015-2016 season, but now he’s coming back to take on the exact same role.
The Thunderbirds have hired Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Jamie Henderson as the club’s new general manager for the upcoming season.
Henderson, who replaces four-year general manager Trev Zachary, has a lot of championship experience in the past with the Soo Thunderbirds as he helped the club win back to back Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy titles in 2015 & 2016 along with a Dudley Hewitt Cup title in 2015.
Henderson served as the Thunderbirds assistant general manager back in the 2014-2015 season, before moving up to become the team’s general manager the following season in 2015-2016.
As an assistant coach with the Thunderbirds back in 2011-2012, Henderson also helped guide the club to their second Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy title followed by their first ever Dudley Hewitt Cup title in franchise history.
Following the 2015-2016 season with the Thunderbirds, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product then served one year as the director of hockey operations with the Lake Superior State University Lakers hockey club in 2016-2017, before going on to coach four seasons in the GNML/GNU-18L from 2017-2021.
THANK YOU DARREN, TREV & DENNY!
Both Darren Smyl and Trev Zachary have spent four seasons with the club from 2017-2021 while Denny Lambert spent one season with them in 2020-2021.
Smyl, who took over as the Thunderbirds team owner and president back in 2017, was the recipient of the Joe Drago Trophy for the NOJHL’s Executive of the Year, following his first season with the club in 2017-2018.
To date, Smyl is just one of five Thunderbird executives to have his name of the Joe Drago Trophy, along with Kevin Cain (2014), Albert Giommi (2012), Sam Biasucci (2001) and two-time winner Al Jones (2008 & 2010).
In Smyl’s four year’s with the Thunderbirds, the club had an overall record of 123 wins, 52 losses, 6 overtime losses, 7 shootout losses and 1 tie.
Zachary, who spent four seasons as the club’s general manager from 2017-2021, has recruited a few players that went on to play in the Ontario Hockey League, including Camaryn Baber (Saginaw Spirit), Jack Matier (Ottawa 67’s), Lucas Theriault (Niagara IceDogs), Cole MacKay (Soo Greyhounds) and Robert Calisti (Soo Greyhounds).
In his second season as general manager in 2018-2019, Zachary also built the Thunderbirds to a 44 win and 89 point season.
Their 44-win season back in 2018-2019, also turned out to be the fifth best season in NOJHL history.
During his four seasons with the Thunderbirds, Zachary also hired head two coaches, including John Parco (2017-2020) and Denny Lambert (2020-2021).
Lambert, who spent this past season as Thunderbirds head coach and assistant general manager, guided the club to a winning season with a record of 13 wins, 6 losses and 2 shootout losses.
Despite only playing 21 games this year due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the club still finished the season in first place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 28 points.
In their final seven games of the season against the Blind River Beavers, the Soo and Blind River also played for a trophy called the COVID Cup.
In the end, Lambert and the Thunderbirds ended up being crowned COVID Cup champions after winning the seven-game cohort series against the Beavers with 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 shootout loss.
(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)