Big news out of French River

randy-russonBy Randy Russon

French River Rapids of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have confirmed a revamping of the two-year old franchise with the appointment of Sherry Bassin as senior director of hockey operations and Ken Strong as head coach.

The 77-year old Bassin has a link to the Ontario Hockey League that dates back to 1976. He is best known for having the ability to surround himself with good people as a general manager who led three different OHL teams to multiple championships and Memorial Cup appearances — Oshawa Generals, Soo Greyhounds and Erie Otters.

Bassin most recently was involved as majority owner and GM in Erie before selling the franchise.

A colourful individual known for his quick wit and sharp tongue as much as his managerial abilities, Bassin is short in stature but big in ego. Nevertheless, his records of achievement in the OHL over parts of five decades have earned him legendary, iconic status.

Over to Strong, he heads to French River to take over from Moe Mantha as head coach. Under Mantha, the Rapids missed the playoffs in each of their first two seasons in the NOJHL.

The 53-year old Strong is a former OHL scoring standout with the Peterborough Petes who went on to play a handful of games in the National Hockey League before embarking on a productive pro career in Austria.

Bassin and Strong join a new-look French River operation led by incoming president Paul Frustaglio.


French River will be holding a spring rookie camp next week (Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23) at Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury.

The camp is open to players born in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Midget aged players born in 2001, 2000 and 1999 need to have a permission to skate form signed by the minor hockey association they played within during the 2016-2017 season.

Any American-born player must bring signed forms from USA Hockey forms with them.

Cost for the three-day camp is $199.

For more information on the camp. e-mail Rapids president Paul Frustaglio via or visit the French River team Facebook page:

PHOTO: Sherry Bassin.