An expected hockey affiliation will soon come to fruition, as the upstart Newfoundland Growlers (ECHL) and Toronto Maple Leafs will reportedly announce their agreement this week.
Plans are taking shape for the Growlers, who are joining the ECHL as an expansion team in time for the 2018-19 season. The club will play games at St. John’s Mile One Center and is owned by Deacon Investments LTD, an entity led by Dean MacDonald and Glenn Stanford.
Previous reports had indicated that the group was planning a partnership with the Maple Leafs, and it appears that that arrangement is about to become official. The two sides are expected to announce an affiliation later this week, according to The Telegram:
The Newfoundland Growlers will check off one more item on their lengthy to-do list sometime later this week when the new ECHL team formally announces its affiliation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For some, this will have them harkening back to the 14 seasons of the American Hockey League’s St. John’s Maple Leafs, but the relationship between the Growlers and Toronto will not be the same as that which existed between the AHL Leafs and Toronto.
And it goes beyond the fact the St. John’s Leafs franchise was directly owned by Toronto as opposed to this ECHL expansion franchise, which is locally owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment (Dean MacDonald and Glenn Stanford).
For the last several years, the ECHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs has been the Orlando Solar Bears. Once the affiliation with the Growlers becomes official, the Maple Leafs organization will include Newfoundland as its ECHL affiliate and the Toronto Marlies as its AHL affiliate.
With the offseason underway, we are now at the point where new or extended professional hockey affiliations are being announced. Here is our coverage of some of the latest announcements.