April 22nd, 2024

Anger and anxiety in Newfoundland after abrupt end to Growlers hockey team

By The Canadian Press on April 3, 2024.

The Newfoundland Embassy pub owner Niall Hickey poses in his establishment across from the Mary Brown Centre, which was the home of the Newfoundland Growlers hockey team, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. The sudden end of the Growlers has left sports fans crushed and business owners anxious in a capital city spurned before by professional hockey teams.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The sudden end of the Newfoundland Growlers has left sports fans crushed and business owners anxious in a capital city spurned before by professional hockey teams.

John Riche, a Realtor known for being a dedicated Growlers fan, says he’s frustrated and “teed off” after Tuesday’s end-of-day announcement that the ECHL was terminating the team’s membership in the league.

Riche has watched three other hockey franchises come and go in St. John’s, N.L., and he says there was a lot of hope the Growlers would be different since they were owned by a local company.

Niall Hickey is co-owner of the Newfoundland Embassy pub, which became a popular spot for drinks before and after games, and he says the team’s demise will end that steady stream of winter customers to his business.

Hickey says the community at large will also take a hit, since the Growlers players and management were always happy to participate in charity events.

The Growlers joined the ECHL in 2018-19 and won the Kelly Cup in their inaugural season, which Hickey says galvanized the city’s support and pride for the team.

The American Hockey League’s Maple Leafs left St. John’s for Toronto in 2005, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Fog Devils moved to the Montreal area in 2008 and the AHL’s Ice Caps left for Laval, Que., in 2017.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2024.

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