Owner may threaten to move minor-hockey team just two years after it replaced minor-hockey team that moved after only two years

Hey, remember last Tuesday when I wrote about Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer threatening to move his junior hockey team as part of an arena ploy, just four years after moving the previous Hamilton Bulldogs AHL franchise to St. John’s, Newfoundland? Well, the former Bulldogs only stayed two years in St. John’s before moving to Laval, Quebec, then were replaced last year by the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers, and you can already see where this is heading, can’t you?

With the ECHL champion Newfoundland Growlers yet to come to a lease agreement at its current home — Mile One Centre in St. John’s — the owner of the franchise has confirmed he’ll be making an announcement Tuesday.

Asked Saturday afternoon about a report on Newfoundland sports website the Sports Page that the 2019-20 season will be the team’s last in St. John’s, MacDonald wouldn’t say.

“We’ll be laying out the future of the team on Tuesday,” he told CBC News.

So, a few things:

  • Maybe Canadian cities might want to think about signing hockey teams to longer-term leases? I realize St. John’s was probably happy to get the Growlers once the St. John’s IceCaps (the former Bulldogs) left, but handing the team owner leverage to demand to take over operations of the city’s arena is possibly not the best idea.
  • On the other hand, there are so many Canadian minor- and junior-hockey leagues (junior leagues are for young players, minor leagues are for players who just aren’t very good) that it seems fairly likely St. John’s could land another team of some kind if the Growlers move.
  • The real purpose of all this brinksmanship appears to be that St. John’s wants to raise the Growlers’ rent payments because the arena is losing money, and the Growlers owners say they don’t want to pay more because they’re losing money. Which may or may not be true, but it’s certainly another data point that in most cases the only way to make money off an arena deal is to have somebody else’s red ink subsidize your profits.
  • The St. John’s arena was built all the way back in 2001, so either an almost-new arena is no guarantee that a team will be happy (or profitable), or 18 years now has to be considered old for an arena, or both, any of which is not a good advertisement for building an arena as a method of promoting long-lasting economic development.
  • The Growlers’ logo suggests that the team should really be called the Newfoundland Newfoundlands.
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3 comments on “Owner may threaten to move minor-hockey team just two years after it replaced minor-hockey team that moved after only two years

  1. I think this is a franchise owner you simply say “goodbye” to as quickly as you can. The basic issue is that Hamilton doesn’t really see itself as a minor league town… it did support the AHL team pretty well as I recall. Rebuilding (or even curtaining off parts of) the arena won’t fix that… plus, let’s be honest, this guy is a candidate for the Loria award given his considerable history… He has given fans plenty of reasons not to support his sports (and possibly other) businesses.

    Also, is the logo an attempt at irony or does he just not understand what a growler actually is? I was sure the logo would be some (probably oversized for dramatic effect) part of an iceberg…

    1. Growler is a Newfoundland term for Iceberg but the logo is on honor of Sable Chief. A Newfoundland dog that was the mascot of the Newfoundland Regiment in World War I.

      1. Thank you. I did not know about the RNR mascot.
        Growler is used elsewhere for bergy bits too (it’s a sailing/seafaring term).

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