ST. JOHN'S, NL – The Newfoundland Growlers, proud affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the team will be opting out of competition for the 2020-21 ECHL season under the ECHL’s COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy.
The announcement coincides with the remaining teams in the ECHL's North Division (Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Reading Royals, and Worcester Railers) who have also elected to avail of the ECHL's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy for the 2020-21 season.
Under the terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, all Players from the Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals, and Worcester Railers are free agents for the 2020-21 Season immediately.
"The Growlers and the ECHL along with the PHPA have been working diligently to a safe return to hockey but unfortunately we have reached a point where it just makes sense to shift our focus to the 2021-22 season and the potential rejuvenation of Mile One Centre." said Dean MacDonald, Chair of Deacon Sports and Entertainment.
With the Growlers current NHL affiliation agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs set to expire in May of 2021, the Growlers ownership and management team will use the time provided by the ECHL’s COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy to reflect on the hockey club's future in St. John's pending the outcome of the potential sale and management of Mile One Centre.
"We invested in St. John's by securing an ECHL franchise and committed to an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with St. John's Sports and Entertainment that stated we would manage the day-to-day operations of Mile One Centre," said Dean MacDonald, Chair of Deacon Sports and Entertainment. "It was an important component of the Growlers business plan and was instrumental in cementing our relationship with the Maple Leafs, but unfortunately, we currently do not manage the building."
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who brought their hockey club’s main training camp to Paradise and St. John’s in September of 2019, supports the Growlers owners intention to both manage and reimagine Mile One Centre.
“It is important to the Maple Leafs that our local partners are successful, as their success ensures the viability of our development program,” said Laurence Gilman, Assistant General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, “We support Dean and Glenn’s aspiration to own and manage Mile One Centre as it will safeguard our commitment and long-term relationship with St. John’s.”