The Inaugural Newfoundland Growlers Celebrating Their Kelly Cup Win
Photo credit: The Athletic

Bankruptcy and Season Cancellation Looms Over Multiple NHL Affiliates

Published March 30, 2024 at 9:18

With bankruptcy and season cancellation looming over the NHL affiliate teams Trois-Rivières Lions and Newfoundland Growlers, the ECHL may now be forced to step in.

According to a recent development shared by sports journalist Matthew Vachon, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs might need to prepare their search for new ECHL affiliate teams. Deacon Sports and Entertainment (DSE), the owners of the Trois-Rivières Lions and Newfoundland Growlers, have incurred enormous league debts, forcing the Board of Governors to step in to decide on whether or not they will pay for the teams to finish the season out.

"Situation developing in the ECHL. Leafs and Habs affiliates may not finish this season per @MatthewVachon_

The ECHL will take over the Growlers and Lions after Apr. 2 due to league debts from the owners DSE. Governors will then decide whether to pay for them to finish the year"

Though season cancellation is unfortunate, the possible aftermath of DSE not selling is much more dire.

The Lions and Growlers have had different paths to their current place, both vying for a spot in the race for the Kelly Cup. Newfoundland joined the ECHL in 2018 and won in their inaugural season, while the team from Trois-Rivières has struggled financially since only making the playoffs once since they joined the league. Now, with the April second deadline rapidly approaching, it seems increasingly likely that both teams are looking at an early end to another season, leaving fans devastated.

Yet, being guaranteed out of the race for the Kelly Cup is not nearly the worst that could come for those involved. Dean Macdonald's group ceased their rent payments for the Lions in the winter of last year, taking on a whopping $1.1 million bill. Previously, the city's executive committee authorized a lease transfer of the team to businessman Steve Leal's group Leal Sports Entertainment (LSE). However, after this decision was repealed on Monday, Trois-Rivières is now taking action to cut its final ties with DSE. This entails cashing in a bank guarantee letter that may pay less than the city needs, potentially burdening taxpayers and cutting pay for team members.

With the future of the teams in jeopardy, Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions fans are preparing for the worst.

With only the board of governors to save them, these two ECHL teams may meet the end of their franchises. Fans of the Growlers and Lions have primarily shared their pessimism, including some Leafs fans who have since redirected their anger from Sheldon Keefe to the fact that the team, like other NHL teams, does not own their ECHL affiliates.

Though things are not looking good for either team, there is still a chance for a full season. If the governors do not decide to support the teams for their last games, DSE can sell the Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions. With the April second deadline just around the corner, all fans can do is hope something goes through.

Source - Hockey Unplugged
Multiple NHL Affiliates At Risk Of Bankruptcy And Season Cancellation
March 30   |   70 answers
Bankruptcy and Season Cancellation Looms Over Multiple NHL Affiliates

Will the Growlers or Lions face season cancellation?

Newfoundland Growlers912.9 %
Trois-Rivičres Lions1115.7 %
Both2840 %
Neither2231.4 %
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