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Battalion GM wins major OHL award

'To be recognized for an award that commemorates a great contributor to our game such as Jim Gregory is something I will forever cherish'
2022 Adam Dennis
File photo.

North Bay Battalion General Manager Adam Dennis is getting recognized for his fine efforts which have helped the Battalion make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the past three seasons. 

On Monday, the Ontario Hockey League today announced that Dennis is the 2023-24 recipient of the Jim Gregory OHL General Manager of the Year Award.

In his fifth season as General Manager in North Bay, Dennis helped guide the Battalion to a third consecutive Central Division title with a regular season mark of 39-20-7-2. The Troops were powered by a roster consisting largely of their own drafted and developed talent in former first overall OHL Priority Selection choice Ty Nelson along with other past selections in captain Liam Arnsby, centreman Dalyn Wakely, OHL goal-scoring leader Anthony Romani, Dallas Stars prospect Justin Ertel, forward Owen Van Steensel, netminder Dom DiVincentiis along with veteran blueliners Paul Christopoulos and Tnias Mathurin.

"To be recognized for an award that commemorates a great contributor to our game such as Jim Gregory is something I will forever cherish," said Dennis of the honour in a release. 

"I am honoured to receive this award on behalf of the North Bay Battalion, this doesn’t happen without the incredible team at the rink and the supportive platform our owner Scott Abbott provides. I’m incredibly blessed to have a great team at home as well. Thank you Caitlin, Clara, William and Ellie, none of this is possible without all of your love and sacrifice.

Dennis believes there is so much credit that needs to go around. 

"At the rink, Ryan Oulahen and his staff put an incredible amount of time and energy into the development of our players," he said.

"Behind the scenes, John Winstanley, Charles Abbott and the entire scouting staff spend countless hours on evenings and weekends helping us build our foundation. A huge thanks needs to go to the billet families that have opened their homes to our players and the great fans that have shown us unwavering support as well. North Bay is an incredible community and one my family is grateful to call home. We can’t wait to get back to the rink and do it all over again in the fall."

Dennis was selected as winner of the annual honour after he and finalists Dave Drinkill of the Saginaw Spirit and Mark Hunter of the London Knights finished as front-runners in voting by OHL General Managers. The final winner was decided upon by a committee consisting of media representatives from a market in each of the OHL’s four divisions, a representative from NHL Central Scouting, as well as a representative from the Ontario Hockey League.

"We're very happy that Adam has been recognized for the outstanding job he's done," said Battalion Owner and Governor Scott Abbott.

"While the award is for the 2023-24 season, he assembled teams that won three consecutive Central Division titles, so his abilities have been well known to Battalion fans for some time. His knowledge of the OHL and his work ethic are second to none, and this award is richly deserved."

In addition to three straight Central Division titles, the Battalion went on to appear in a third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship Series, becoming the first Eastern Conference team to do so since the 2007-09 Belleville Bulls. Dennis' acquisition of Florida Panthers prospect Sandis Vilmanis and brothers Andrew and Jacob LeBlanc from the Sarnia Sting in January proved to be one of the OHL season's most impactful transactions. Vilmanis went on to score 28 goals in 30 regular season games with the Troops before leading them in playoff scoring with 27 points (10-17--27) over 16 contests.

“On behalf of my mother, Rosalie and the entire Gregory family, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Adam Dennis for winning this year’s Jim Gregory Memorial Award," said David Gregory, son of Jim Gregory and Director of Scouting Services with the National Hockey League. "His leadership of the North Bay Battalion has led to an outstanding season and a remarkable playoff performance. Adam's consistent excellence year after year truly embodies the spirit of a distinguished hockey executive. Congratulations, Adam, and we wish you continued success in your future endeavours in hockey.”

Dennis recently completed his eighth season with the Battalion, having joined the organization as an Assistant General Manager and Assistant/Goaltending Coach in 2016-17. Under Dennis' guidance, the Battalion have won 130 regular season games since the OHL's return from the Covid-19 pandemic, the most by any team in the Eastern Conference.

On the ice, Dennis holds a unique place in the OHL record book, with his 36 career playoff wins the most by any goaltender in the league's history. A former 14th round (273rd overall) pick by the Guelph Storm in 2001, Dennis went on to win back-to-back OHL championships in 2004 (with Guelph) and 2005 (with the London Knights) before earning OHL Goaltender of the Year honours in 2006 as his Knights won a Western Conference title. He's a former sixth round (182nd overall) pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 2005 who went on to play six professional seasons in Italy and Austria.

First announced in August 2019, the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award is presented annually to the General Manager who best excelled in his role during the regular season. The award honours the memory of one of the game’s great builders in former long-time NHL executive Jim Gregory who passed away in October 2019 at the age of 83.

Dennis follows previous award winners in Mark Hunter of the London Knights in 2023, Steve Staios of the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2022 and James Boyd of the Ottawa 67’s in 2020. He’ll be formally presented with the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award at the OHL’s Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 12 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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