Canadian ECHL teams could be shut down this week

A stack of hockey pucks is set on a bench. (Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The two lone Canadian ECHL teams could have their operations suspended on Tuesday if a sale can not be agreed upon, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate, and the Trois Rivières Lions, the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate, are owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment and, as Friedman reported on the “Saturday Headlines” segment of Hockey Night in Canada, there have been issues behind the scenes for some time.

“There’s been a lengthy behind-the-scenes battle over payments to cities and some of the NHL teams, and they’ve put a deadline,” Friedman said. “If it isn’t solved by Tuesday, then there’s going to be a board meeting and they’re going to suspend operations of the team.”

Friedman also reports that there is optimism that, even if operations are suspended on both teams, a solution can be worked out by next season.

As for the players in Newfoundland and Trois Rivières, they will become unrestricted free agents — though there are plans in the works to ensure the players will be compensated through free agency, according to Friedman.

Deacon Sports and Entertainment is the majority owner of both franchises and was involved in an arena dispute in 2021 with the city of St. John’s over its use of what was then called the Mile One Centre. Though those disputes have been resolved, DSE owes the city of Trois Rivières close to $1 million over their use of the Colisée Vidéotron.

The ECHL did not respond to a request for a comment on this story when contacted by Sportsnet earlier this week.

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