Dundas Blues president Steve Aglor outside J.L. Grightmire Arena eight months ago, as ongoing delays forced user groups out for a second season. The team is now preparing for its 60th season, back in its upgraded home rink. - Craig Campbell/Metroland
After two years of instability, the Dundas Blues Junior Hockey Club will renew itself with a return to its original name and its upgraded home in J.L. Grightmire Arena, in time for the club’s 60th anniversary.
To top it off this season, Blues president and past player Steve Aglor will officially be inducted into the Dundas Sports Wall of Fame - which will finally make its permanent home in the new second storey of Grightmire Arena’s addition.
The Blues maintain a two-year-old partnership with the Hamilton Huskies. Mike Spadafora, general manager of both organizations, asked Aglor what he thought about changing the team’s name back to Dundas Blues from Hamilton Huskies Junior Blues - after one season.
“I’ve had a big smile on my face ever since,” Aglor said.
Spadafora said the highly anticipated return to J.L. Grightmire Arena this September after two difficult seasons away, and the 60th anniversary, were key reasons for a step back on last season’s name change. The City of Hamilton has taken over part of the arena from the contractor and just a couple of projects remainto be completed.
“Feedback I’ve received convinced me the team should be called the Dundas Blues,” he said. “The partnership won’t change.”
Aglor said the only reason the six-decade old club is able to return to the refurbished and improved arena on Market Street is that very partnership which started two seasons ago.
Aglor and Spadafora agreed the completed facility will be the best hockey arena in Hamilton, and across its entire junior league.
“Everything will be top notch,” Aglor said.
In addition to great new second-floor viewing areas, and additional standing room areas, Aglor said the city is now adding brand new rink boards and a new ice chiller.
Having a temporary home at Westoby Ice Surface on Olympic Drive, then bouncing back and forth between Olympic and Chedoke Arena, didn’t’ help maintain a fan base or any consistency for players, coaches and administration.
“The feeling hasn’t been right,” Spadafora said.
The team needed two separate locker rooms at Olympic and Chedoke. Coaches didn’t have office space near the players. Aglor transported equipment back and forth to games and practices.
Players didn’t want to play for the Blues, with no real home and lagging fan support. Potential additions asked where the team was playing.
“Olympic wasn’t the answer they were looking for,” Spadafora said. “There’s a buzz about returning to Market Street.”
They hope that means more interested players bringing their talent to Dundas – and excitement among fans to come to games in the fresh, improved home, and perhaps even volunteer.
“We’re hoping the community of Dundas comes back to support the team the way it used to,” Spadafora said, adding the instability of the last two seasons has made running the community team a challenge.
“Without community support, it’s next to impossible.”
With several veteran players returning including captain Chris Cudek, Scott McLaren, Danny Attridge and Brandon Waterhouse, the Blues executive is eager to put a strong product on the ice to keep people coming back to the rejuvenated rink.
They’re also talking about how the club will celebrate this season’s multiple milestones including the 60th anniversary, reopening of the new Grightmire Arena and Aglor’s induction into the Dundas Sports Wall of Fame.
The Dundas Blues tentatively plan to open the regular season, and the new J.L. Grightmire Arena, the week of Sept. 17.
The team is looking for a new trainer, more volunteers and sponsors. Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.