The Welland Jr. Canadians preseason is ongoing and Head Coach Dave Burkholder is piecing together his bench staff for the 2021/2022 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) season. The first addition is former National Hockey League (NHL) player and Niagara-native Zenon Konopka as an assistant coach.
“We’re very excited to have Zenon as part of our bench staff,” said Head Coach Dave Burkholder. “He brings a tremendous hockey background, based around leadership and teachability. He’ll be fantastic on our staff.”
Konopka is a nine-year professional hockey veteran. He played at the NHL, AHL, ECHL level, along with various European leagues. He spent time with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild and the Buffalo Sabres.
He won a Memorial Cup with the Ottawa 67’s in 1999 and an ECHL champion with the Idaho Steelheads in 2004. He captained three different teams throughout his career – the 67’s, the Syracuse Crunch and the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. As a Niagara native, he played junior ‘B’ hockey with the Thorold Blackhawks, under now-Jr. Canadians Owner Louis Savona.
Since retiring from hockey, Konopka has returned to the Niagara area. He’s often seen at various Niagara arenas, focusing on skills development with young players and prospects, specifically through his camp sessions.
“I am excited to join the Jr. Canadians organization,” said Konopka. “I look forward to getting started and working closely with Dave.”
Off the ice, Konopka is an entrepreneur and guest speaker, focusing on leadership. He’s also an advocate for supporting local charities and the community.
The Jr. Canadians would like to welcome Zenon to the organization.