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Report: Leafs moving minor league affiliate to St. John’s, Nfld

Is this the right move? Anyone up for an east coast road trip?

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According to multiple reports from Robin Short of the St. John’s Telegram, the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland is in discussions to bring an ECHL franchise to the city’s tenant-less Mile One Stadium. It’s expected that The proposed expansion franchise in the province’s capital has already established a partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Currently, the team’s ECHL affiliate is the Orlando Solar Bears, but a new agreement with the city of St. John’s and the ECHL would put that to an end.

The city of St. John’s and the Leafs have a long history together, of course. The Leafs’ AHL affiliate was in St. John’s as the St. John’s Maple Leafs for 14 years before moving back to Toronto and becoming the Toronto Marlies in 2005. Since then St. John’s has filled the void with a failed QMJHL team, the St. John’s Fog Devils and a new AHL franchise, the St. John’s IceCaps, who were affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens. The Fog Devils and IceCaps are both long gone, however and St. John’s is hungry for a new team. 

That’s all fine and well… but what about the Brampton Beast? Wouldn’t they be a better destinations for the Leafs’ ECHL team? The ECHL’s only Canadian team is right in the Leafs’ back yard, just waiting for an affiliation. What’s the rush to put a team in St. John’s?

Regardless of what happens with St. John’s and its ECHL bid, Short reports that the city and the Leafs have discussed hosting Marlies games at Mile One Stadium in the future:

The Leafs apparently have expressed an interest in having the AHL’s Toronto Marlies play a pair of regular season games in St. John’s each season.

Interesting. It remains to be seen how things shake down with the Leafs’ ECHL franchise, but what’s your take? Good move? Frankly, whether it ends up being St. John’s or Brampton, we’re just happy to see more Canadian cities get access to high level professional hockey.

Former Leafs D named to Russian Olympic team

All things considered, this is a strong roster. How do you feel about Canada’s chances now?

In other Leafs news, former Leafs defenceman Alexey Marchenko has been named to the Russian men’s national team roster for the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Märchenkö was acquired by the Leafs in February, 2017 from the Detroit Red Wings off of waivers. The former 7th round pick by the Wings in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was a favourite of Leafs head coach Mike Babcock from his time in Detroit, but the young defenceman was never able to fill a roll in Toronto. He’d be placed on waivers after playing just 11 games with the Leafs. Ultimately, the team and the play elected to mutually terminate their agreement so Marchenko could return to Russia and sign in the KHL. 

This season, the 26-year-old Marchenko has put up two goals and 14 points in 40 games with a powerhouse CSKA Moscow club. He managed just a goal and an assist in his time with the Leafs.

In terms of surprises with this Russian roster, it’s no surprise to see big names like Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk on the roster, but there are certainly some omissions that have fans scratching their heads. Where’s former Boston Bruins forward Alexander Khokhlachev? He’s 6th in KHL scoring. Former Dallas Stars horse Valeri Nichushkin is nowhere to be seen either. Or how about veteran defenceman Alexei Markov, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens?

What’s your take? Do you think Canada has the star power to tackle a team loaded with star NHLers, albeit aging star NHLers?