April 15th, 2024

ECHL terminates membership of Newfoundland Growlers effective immediately

By The Canadian Press on April 2, 2024.

SHREWSBURY, N.J. – The ECHL has terminated membership of the Newfoundland Growlers franchise effective immediately, the league announced Tuesday.

The ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs said its board of governors voted to revoke the Growlers’ membership “for failure to fulfil its obligations under the ECHL bylaws” but did not elaborate further.

In a statement, Deacon Sports and Entertainment, the majority owner of the Growlers, said it was unable to sell the St. John’s-based team before Tuesday’s league-mandated deadline.

DSE is also the majority owner of the Trois-Rivières Lions, the Quebec-based affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. The group says a buyer for that team has been found, pending league approval.

The Growlers players will become free agents, though teams are limited to signing two players from that pool. Newfoundland’s final six games this season have been cancelled.

The Growlers joined the ECHL in 2018-19, winning the Kelly Cup in their inaugural season.

“We are saddened to lose ECHL hockey in the Newfoundland market,” league commissioner Ryan Crelin said 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 fan base.”

With the Growlers’ end, the Mary Brown’s Centre in downtown St. John’s has lost another hockey tenant.

The American Hockey League’s Maple Leafs moved to Toronto in 2005, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Fog Devils relocated to Boisbriand, Que., in 2011 and the AHL’s Ice Caps left for Laval, Que., in 2017.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

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