Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield's brother Brock in a Toronto Maple Leafs practice jersey
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20 players in the Maple Leafs organization to become free agents today

Published April 2, 2024 at 7:29 PM

It was announced today that the Toronto Maple Leafs' ECHL affiliate, the Newfoundland Growlers, will be ceasing operations immediately.

At its core, hockey is more than just a sport; it's also a business. Often, fans only get to see the brighter side of things. But today, they got a glimpse of the less pleasant aspects of the business.

After weeks of discussions, it turns out that the situation has taken a turn for the worse as the Toronto Maple Leafs' minor league partner has had to close down.

It has been a tough battle already for the Newfoundland Growlers, who lost their home arena back in 2021.

There were rumors last week about the team facing financial difficulties and that its owners had failed to pay back several loans. The league tried hard to find a way to fix these issues. Unfortunately, today it became clear that there was no way out, and the league had to close down the team.

Maxime Truman has reported that in the past hour, the team has informed other teams in the league that its players are now free agents.

SCOOP! Les Growlers de Terre-Neuve ont indiqué aux autres équipes de la ECHL que leurs joueurs deviendront libres tantôt. #LaFin

have indicated to other ECHL teams that their players will become free agent later today. #TheEnd

#Lions #OnAttendEncore

The ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers are ceasing operations immediately. Any NFLD player who was on an AHL/NHL contract as of March 20 is ineligible to play in the ECHL for the rest of the season. Everyone else is a free agent.

20 players from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization will become free agents effective immediately

This means that 20 players, who were members of the Growlers on ECHL contracts, will officially be free agents.

The ECHL and ownership group of the Growlers released this statement:

ST. JOHN'S, NL – 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.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our fans, sponsors, partners, staff, and the hundreds of players who have proudly represented the Growlers, whose unwavering resilience and support has been instrumental to our on-ice product.

Deacon Sports and Entertainment extends sincere gratitude to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens for their support over the past six seasons.

Refunds for home games that have yet to be played will be automatically processed by the Mary Brown's Centre box office. For more information about the refund process please contact the appropriate team sales department using the contact information listed below.

April 2   |   385 answers
20 players in the Maple Leafs organization to become free agents today

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