ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers terminated by league

ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers terminated by league

The Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL have had their membership terminated, the league announced on Tuesday, as voted by the league’s board of governors.

The league said the change was “effective immediately, for failure to fulfill its obligations under the ECHL Bylaws,” resulting in the club ceasing operations.

In an interview with St. John’s radio station VOCM, Dean MacDonald, chair of Deacon Sports and Entertainment, majority owners of the Growlers and Trois Rivières Lions, said they had proposed a sale of both teams, but only the latter had been saved.

Shortly after that interview aired, the Lions released a statement saying the club will be sold pending the approval of the league and continue operations.

“We are saddened to lose ECHL hockey in the Newfoundland market,” said ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin in a statement. “We’d like to thank the Growlers fans and partners for their support of the team throughout their existence, and are hopeful that hockey can return to the region for their dedicated and passionate fanbase.”

The league announced that six games on the Growlers’ schedule have subsequently been cancelled. Three of those games were against the Lions.

The Growlers were ECHL affiliates of the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Lions are affiliates of the Montreal Canadiens. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday there have been issues behind the scenes for some time.

“There’s been a lengthy behind-the-scenes battle over payments to cities and some of the NHL teams, and they’ve put a deadline,” Friedman said on Saturday. “If it isn’t solved by Tuesday, then there’s going to be a board meeting and they’re going to suspend operations of the team.”

“All ECHL Contracted Players on the Newfoundland roster are Unrestricted Free Agents, however no ECHL Member may sign more than two (2) Players from the free agent pool of Newfoundland Players. Any Player from this pool who signs and finishes the Season with a new ECHL Member for the balance of the 2023-24 Season shall be ineligible for that Member’s Protected List and shall become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the conclusion of the 2023-24 Season,” the league said in its statement.

Deacon Sports and Entertainment was involved in an arena dispute in 2021 with the City of St. John’s over its use of what was then called the Mile One Centre. Though those disputes have been resolved, DSE owes the city of Trois Rivières close to $1 million over their use of the Colisée Vidéotron.

Comments are closed.