According to a report in the St. John’s Telegram from St. John’s, Newfoundland the ECHL is expected to announce that the city has been chosen as its next expansion location and will begin operations next season.
The yet to be named team could be announced as early as today and it’s also expected that the team will have an affiliation with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Currently the Leafs’ ECHL affiliate is the Orlando Solar Bears, but the league’s expansion into Canada will necessitate a change in affiliations. Of course, the Maple Leafs have a long history in the city of St. John’s, as well. The Leafs housed their AHL farm team, the St. John’s Maple Leafs, in the city for decades before moving them to Toronto as the Marlies back in 2005.
St. John’s last hosted professional hockey with the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets from 2011 until 2015 and as an affiliate of the Montreal Candiens from 2015 until 2017. The team is now defunct, but the team’s former chief operating officer, Glenn Stanford, is a major reason why St. John’s stands to get a new professional hockey team. Stanford and St. John’s businessman Dean MacDonald are behind the group’s expansion efforts.
St. John’s will join the ECHL as only it’s second Canadian franchise behind the Brampton Beast, ECHL affiliate of the Canadiens. While it has not yet officially been determined, the team will likely be a part of the league’s North Division with the Manchester Monarchs, Adirondack Thunder, Worcester Railers, Reading, Pa., Royals, Wheeling, W.V., Nailers and Brampton, Ont., Beast.
As for potential team names, the group of course could go back to the well and use Maple Leafs or IceCaps, but according to an informal Twitter poll from former Jets and Canadiens PR and communications director David Salter, the fans have something else in mind:
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