Hotham has big shoes to fill as Barrie AAA Chairman

Hotham steps in as chairman after Hugh Campbell announced his retirement

Greg Hotham has had hardly any time to settle in his position as the new Chairman of the Barrie AAA Zone Hockey Association.

Taking over an organization in the midst’s of COVID-19 is never easy, but he’s had to hit the ground running already.

With so many things still uncertain with the year-long pandemic, Hotham’s already had to oversee one big decision when they announced Friday the Barrie AAA Zone had to cease operations for the 2020-21 season as of March 29.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but one the Barrie AAA board believes was necessary.

“There are 10 centres in the ETA that are also ceasing operations on or before March 31, which leaves us little to no choice but to follow suit,” Hotham said in an announce made on the program website to players, parents, coaches and managers. “With health units having different rules, lack of ice in some centres and spring sports around the corner, it’s virtually impossible to schedule meaningful games.”

Hotham steps in as chairman after Hugh Campbell announced his retirement after nearly 35 years of being involved in minor hockey in the city.

The former NHL defenceman knows he has a big role to fill, especially with the work Campbell has done leading the organization through the pandemic over the last year.

Going from one emergency colour to the next and not knowing if you’re playing from one week to the next, Campbell, says Hotham,  did an excellent job of keeping everything together.

“He’s basically been the face of the organization since he took over and it’s certainly going to be big shoes to fill, let’s put it that way,” said Hotham, who first got to know Campbell when he coached a AAA Icemen team in the late 1990s and Campbell was part of the executive. “He’s got great connections with the OMHA and ETA and is well respected in both of those organizations.

“I look at it as an opportunity to possibly add to it. Hugh did such a great job, but it’s like everything else we want to try to improve it if possible there’s ways to improve it. I’ve only been at it a short time, so it’s going to take me a while to get my feet wet in this role and get us through the COVID and see what the direction this organization wants to go in.”

Campbell believes they’ve built a pretty good foundation over the years and is confident he’s leaving the minor hockey program in good hands with Hotham taking over.

“I’m very confident in Greg’s abilities,” said Campbell, who added he’ll be just a phone call away if advice is ever required. “He’s certainly been around in the hockey world for all his life and other administrative roles, so I’m pretty happy that Greg is taking over and I think he can continue to pursue (what we’ve built here).

“My hope is that next fall we get back to some normalcy where the boys can get back to playing in the ETA, having leagues and tournaments all the usual things.”

One of the things Hotham is hoping to change is bringing more minor hockey championships to the city. There haven’t been many over the years, though he makes it clear that it’s not a knock on Campbell or anyone else.

“There wasn’t a real good time to take over, but at the end of the day obviously the organization has been run well by Hugh and the people who are on the board of directors as well,” Hotham said. “We’ll look at the whole organization as a whole and see if there’s places that can be improved on. I’m not saying there’s going to be, but I haven’t been in it long enough to really see where we need it yet.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, or when you go, into an organization, it’s no different than a GM taking over a team or a coach taking over a hockey team, you’re out here looking to improve. I don’t know where those areas are yet, but we’ll look at the organization as a whole and see if there’s areas we can improve, both on the administrative side and also on the hockey side as well.”