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ST. JOHN’S -UPDATE: Tuesday April 2, 2023 GROWLERS GONE!

In a statement today from Deacon Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Newfoundland Growlers, said that negotiation to keep the team alive have failed. The Newfoundland Growlers are closing up shop after six season.

“Despite the efforts of our front-office, Deacon Sports and Entertainment regrets to announce that the sale of the Newfoundland Growlers could not be finalized prior to the league-mandated April 2, 2024 deadline. Due to unforeseen challenges, and while a discussion was put forth to salvage the future of both teams, only the continuation of the Trois-Rivières Lions was approved by the ECHL, and as a result, the ECHL Board of Governors has voted to terminate the league membership of the Newfoundland Growlers.

Deacon Sports and Entertainment has reached an agreement for the sale and continued operations of the Trois-Rivières Lions, pending the approval of the ECHL. The decision to sell the Trois-Rivières Lions comes after careful consideration and strategic planning to ensure the continued success and growth of the franchise.”

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Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions of the ECHL are at risk of folding before the 2023-24 regular season draws to a close. The clubs, which are the second-tier “AA” affiliates of the Maple Leafs and the Canadien are majority-owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment of St John’s and owes the city of Trois-Rivière more than $1 million in fee for the use of the city owned Colisée de Vidéotron, which was built in recent years in particular to accommodate an ECHL club.

Little Help From Canadiens

“We haven’t had much help from the Habs […] I’ve seen the wall coming for a long time, because things haven’t been going well (financially) for a long time”, said Éric Bélanger, former coach of Trois- Rivieres.

The owners of the Newfoundland Growlers say they are working toward a “positive resolution” to the current uncertainty surrounding the team.

In a statement issued on Thursday Deacon Sports and Entertainment said they’re in discussions, with the ECHL, ahead of a board of governors meeting next Tuesday and they are working toward a positive resolution to the current uncertainty surrounding the team.

Deadline Looms

The ECHL has set a deadline for Deacon Sports and Entertainment to sell the clubs by April 2. The sale of both franchises is not expected to happen by that deadline. The ECHL’s board of governors will meet Tuesday to decide whether to allow them to play out the season. Regardless of the outcome the league will absorb ownership of the two franchises after the April 2. Both teams will have representatives at the board meeting.

Both Teams Could Be Closed Before Playoff

Both teams have 10 or fewer games remaining on their regular-season schedule. The Growlers and Lions are both in the league’s North Division and are part of a tight race to claim the final two playoff spots available with Maine, Reading, and Worcester.

The Growlers, are supposed to host the Lions in St John’s at the Mary Browns Centre on April 5-7.

The Growlers have been one of the league’s most successful teams since their inception in 2018-19, winning the Kelly Cup in their inaugural campaign and making it to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022 and 2023.

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