Maple Leafs’ ECHL Team is Looking for a New Home

The Toronto Maple Leafs ECHL affiliate, the Newfoundland Growlers, just secured a new home arena only days before the season home opener. The team was kicked out of Mile One Centre in the City of St. John’s while an investigation takes place after allegations of “disrespectful workplace conduct.”

Newfoundland Growlers ECHL Team for Toronto Maple Leafs
Newfoundland growlers (The Hockey Writers)

The owners of the team, along with the Maple Leafs have been scrambling to find a solution while the investigation takes place. It appeared the Growlers would be playing in Toronto at the Coca-Cola Coliseum, the home of the Marlies. However, the idea was ruled out. In a statement, the team cited, “… several logistical and personnel issues that surround sending a professional hockey team away from their homes for an unexpected and extending amount of time.”

Now, at the 11-hour, Conception Bay South, about 30 minutes away has opened the door of their local arena for the first six games. Conception Bay South Mayor, Darrin Bent said, “as one of the Province’s most attractive locations for day trips, the Town of Conception Bay South will give them a warm reception and make their stay with us an experience they will never forget, as we would do for all our visitors.”

Were Growlers Unfairly Penalized?

A warm welcome after a cold shoulder. Team owner Dean MacDonald, told CBC, “what we’re finding, which I think most people would understand, is that there’s a penalty without a process,” the owner is supportive of investigating, but said, “we’re being penalized for something at this stage that no one even knows is legitimate.” MacDonald believes the arena staff members are stressed over social media complaints caused by ticketing problems at the venue.

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St. John’s Mayor, Danny Breen will not get into the details of the complaint. He said in a statement, “employees of SJSEL have brought forward allegations of disrespectful workplace conduct against staff at DSE that must be fully investigated. Given the seriousness of the situation, we have no choice but to take this action. While we know this is disappointing to hockey fans, the health and wellbeing of our employees is our top priority.”

While there is a short-term solution, the team informed fans who purchased tickets to the St. John’s arena will not be transferred to the Conception Bay South. The team urges fans to call the city-owned and operated arena to process refunds. The temporary home seats just over 1,000 fans compared to the original location that has more than 7,000 seats. Clearly, that is a considerable hit to the team’s bottom line. MacDonald may just be adding it to the inevitable lawsuit. “We’re going to be fighting this hard. Obviously, the relationship is done, I think everyone’s going to see that some light is cast here where it’s long overdue.”

Growlers Plans for New Arena to be Announced Soon

The latest issue may fast-track MacDonald’s plans to build his own arena for the Growlers. He has said more details will be available soon but has made it clear that the arena will not be in St. John’s. Meanwhile, the fan base has voiced its displeasure, as morning talk radio shows have been hearing from callers who want their money back, and local businesses that were depending on the game-day traffic.

The Growlers began playing in St. John’s for the 2018–19 ECHL season. The club replaced the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League when the Montreal Canadiens moved the club to Laval. The Growlers won the ECHL Championship, the Kelly Cup in 2019. The newly hired Ryan Hardy is the general manager of the Growlers and the Marlies, and Laurence Gilman, an assistant general manager with Toronto is the ECHL governor for the Growlers.

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