“I used to joke, ’10 K, we go all the way’,” he said. “People would ask what it meant. If I put 10,000 km on my truck, then we’ll end up in the Sutherland Cup final.
“I did that a few times – and three of the past four seasons.”
After 15 years at the wheel, one of the most successful owners in London sports history decided to hand over the keys. Eansor recently sold the Junior B franchise to Paul Duarte, a fellow hockey enthusiast who runs a local legal services business.
“It was a labour of love for me,” said Eansor, the former operator of Courtesy Ford Lincoln and now owner and president of Windsor Honda. “I’ve always been all-in with this. I’m the team’s biggest fan on the planet and the issue I was dealing with was becoming an absentee owner. I like going to the games and I was only getting to 10 to 12 of them in the regular season.
When Eansor and brother Bill bought the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League club a decade and a half ago, they figured they would build it up for five or six years and then move on to something else. Bill left in 2012 to pursue other interests and Ken led the rise of a provincial powerhouse.
The Nationals won the Sutherland Cup in 2013 and captured six Western Conference titles, including the most recent four. They were in good position to make it five straight until the coronavirus pandemic scrapped the season in the second round of the playoffs.
“I have to give credit to my daughter Whitney. She did a lot of off-ice stuff for me, along with Pat and Tim Simmons. I wouldn’t have been able to run the team the way it’s been run without them.”
Simmons was with the Eansors when they started their ownership run and remains with the team as director of hockey operations.
“The last few years, the kids would see him and knew they better go shake his hand and say thanks for treating them the way he did.”
Eansor wasn’t going to settle for selling the team to the highest bidder. He wanted his successor to have the same passion and interest in the game.
“I’m happy to pass the torch to Paul,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence that under his leadership, he’ll maintain the winning position and take care of the guys. We discussed the entire staff coming back next year and he wanted them back.”
“I really feel bad for the 20-year-olds this year,” Eansor said, “because they were hell-bent to come back and win this thing. We had a real good team again. That’s one regret, but it’s a game and what we’re dealing with right now in the world isn’t a game.
Now, Eansor is all-in with his Windsor Honda work. Down the road, he wouldn’t be against getting involved in hockey again in some capacity.
“I’m not going to say no because I really love the game,” he said. “We had a loyal, passionate group in London and I’ll always be a National.”