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ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers cease operations

ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers cease operations

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The ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers ceased operations on Tuesday, the team and league announced.

Newfoundland had been the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ECHL affiliate since entering the league in 2018. Seven Growlers alumni went on to play in the NHL, including the Maple Leafs’ Timothy Liljegren and Bobby McMann, as well as Boston Bruins forward Justin Brazeau.

The league cited “failure to fulfill obligations under the ECHL bylaws” as the reason for terminating the Growlers’ membership.

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Deacon Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Growlers and the Trois-Rivieres Lions, were given a league mandate to sell the teams by Tuesday. An agreement was made on a sale for the Lions, an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, and the team will continue to play for the rest of the 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.”

There had been issues regarding payments to the cities and the league for some time, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday. The owners have debts of $1.1 million to the city of Trois-Rivieres for the use of Colisee Videotron, per VOCM.

Players under contract with the Growlers become unrestricted free agents. Those signed to NHL or AHL contracts will return to their respective teams.

Goaltender Vyacheslav Peksa was the lone Maple Leafs prospect with the Growlers this season. Former Hobey Baker winner Dryden McKay also featured regularly for Newfoundland.

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The Growlers made the conference finals in every season they competed, winning the ECHL championship in their inaugural 2018-19 campaign. Newfoundland didn’t play the 2019-20 or 2020-21 seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team had six games remaining in the 2023-24 regular season and was battling for a playoff spot.

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Kyle Cushman

Published: 2024-04-02 21:48:10

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