James Boyd Brings His A-Game to the Ottawa 67s
Photos courtesy of Ottawa 67s
You could say that hockey runs in James Boyd’s blood. The new General Manager of the Ottawa 67s first become interested in the sport through his father, who played ‘Old Timers’ hockey and coached the kids in his hometown of Midland, Ontario. While growing up, he spent a lot of time in and around the rink and watching the local Jr. C team, the Midland Centennials.
“To a young kid it felt like the big leagues,” says Boyd.
He went on to play at the varsity level for the University of Guelph. After being asked in 1999 to help coach his former junior team, The Belleville Bulls, Boyd discovered that his love for the sport spread to coaching. “I have always been passionate about hockey and coaching for me was an extension of playing,” he says.
Only intending to take the job for one year, the trial run turned into two decades of dedicated leadership and a gradual shift from coaching to management. “I really enjoy what I do and it has been a very enjoyable career.”
A past history as a player has given Boyd a leg up in his positions off the ice, both as a coach and as a general manager, providing perspective when dealing with student athletes. When looking back on his playing experience, Boyd is particularly struck by the lessons learned in time management and prioritization. “Much of what we do now as a management team is providing our players with the tools and support to be successful during their time with the 67s and beyond,” he reveals. “I often run into former players and to catch up and see them thriving with careers and young families is rewarding. We hope that we had a small hand in their success.”
Himself a former player for the 67s, Boyd states that there has been quite a few changes since his time on the team. The stadium and amenities available are “like a different world,” now that the club shares facilities with the The Fury and the Redblacks.
In his new position, he will work hand in hand with Head Coach and Vice-President of Hockey Operations Andre Tourigny to build their team. “We have a good idea of what type of hockey players we have returning, but it’s fun for me to get to know them and their families,” says Boyd. “As a former 67, I have had the chance to reconnect with former teammates and meet some of the alumni and it’s nice to be a part of things here.”
The OSEG group’s reputation, the team’s history and the city itself were some of the deciding factors for Boyd when accepting the position. “The city, our stadium venue and local Universities are amongst the best in the country. Ottawa is a world class city and the 67s have all the resources to provide a first-class environment for our student athletes” he says.
Though only a few months into Boyd’s time as General Manager, he and Tourigny have already assembled a quality staff of both new and familiar faces, bringing expertise in areas such as fitness, nutrition, wellness, goaltending techniques, skill development, team building and leadership.
As General Manager, Boyd’s goals are to make sure that the players have all the tools they need and that the team runs smoothly, from players’ education needs to billeting, travel to the management of the on-ice product. Long term, he has big dreams for the 67s to be a team that competes for division, conference and league championships, and eventually The Memorial Cup.
This upcoming season, Boyd is looking forward to the enthusiasm of the players. “Every player on our team wants to do more,” he says. “They want more responsibility, want to make a difference every day. It’s always refreshing to be around a group of people with that type of mindset.”
In his new role, Boyd is most excited to continue building the 67s, working hand in hand with the experienced and connected coaching staff to “find the players that best complement the fast-paced aggressive style that [the] coaches want the team to play.”
The thing he enjoys most so far? The competitiveness of the league. “The OHL is an extremely well run league,” says Boyd. “It is a constant challenge to stay ahead of the game… You have to be on your toes.”
This is a particularly special year for the team, marking their 50th anniversary. The big birthday will be celebrated with events throughout the season involving alumni and fans and honoring the team’s history. Boyd invites fans and soon-to-be fans to come and join the party.
Over the course of those 50 years, the 67s have not only given opportunities to dozens of NHL caliber players, they’ve provided an environment for creating family memories. “That’s our prime objective this year, to rekindle those memories for our existing fans and inspire today’s families to give us a try and create their own great memories at our games,” says Boyd. “It’s going to be a fun season.”