ECHL: Two Franchises in Jeopardy?

There has been plenty of talk and speculation throughout the last few months about the Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions’ financial woes. As the end of the season is quickly approaching, the future for both franchises is starting to take shape.

The Trois-Rivières Lions have been rumored to be having financial issues for the last couple of months as Deacon Sports and Entertainment, as both the Lions and Newfoundland Growlers were rumored to possibly be folding. Still, it sounded like the Lions were in more trouble, especially with the Lions being one of the newer teams in the ECHL. Trois-Rivières’ future now hangs in the hands of the Board Of Governors, who will vote on whether to have the teams continue for the rest of the year under the league’s supervision. That vote is set to take place on April 2, 2024. If the vote does not pass, not only will the Trois-Rivières Lions be folding, but could the Newfoundland Growlers be in jeopardy, as they are both owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment?

Per a source close to the Lions, employees of Colisée Videotron have already been told by management that this weekend is the last weekend, but it would be hard to imagine that the ECHL would be okay with that; I would expect the league to get involved to at least get the Lions to the finish line of the 2023-24 season.

DSE’s debt is alleged to be nearing the $1m mark for unpaid rent at Colisée Videotron.

Related Post: ECHL: Why The Newfoundland Growlers Moving Could Benefit The Toronto Maple Leafs and ECHL

What Happens Next?

Prior to this point, DSE had been in talks to sell the franchise to Steven Leal. However, due to other business dealings, he would not be able to complete a sale of the franchise prior to the league’s deadline on April 2nd.

Unfortunately, due to a business issue, Mr. Leal is not able to purchase the team within the prescribed time frame, But as soon as this issue is resolved in the coming months, he wants to initiate discussions again and ensure the continuity of professional hockey in Trois-Rivieres.

Steven Leal told TVA News via a spokesperson in JAN 2024

With the season weeks away from being completed, we could see the league take over the franchise to avoid a team shuttering mid-season. Then, if Steven Leal is able to purchase the team during the Summer, they make the transition and keep the Lions in Trois-Rivières.

We will have more updates as the story develops.

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

6 thoughts on “ECHL: Two Franchises in Jeopardy?

    1. Whats that insult based on?

      My experience with DSE and its owners here in Newfoundland have been nothing but positive.

      The reality is operating a pro team like this is always a crap shoot with very little likelihood of doing better then breaking even. If anyone goes into this business thinking it will make them rich they are crazy.

      The major reason the Lions failed is because the team had the second lowest attendance in the league little over 2000 per game.

      There are a lot of reasons why Deacon has been in the market to sell its 3 teams and they don’t all relate to money or Hockey even people with the very best intentions can have life changing events in their life that result in unanticipated impacts.

      I do know that DSE has been working hard to find new owners for the teams. A new owner is in place for the US team owned by DSE and a new owner for the lions was thought to be in place and may still be.

  1. I am a Maine Mariners season ticket holder and heard about the Lions issues. I had forgotten about the link to the Growlers. Sad to hear.

  2. I hope those teams survive as our Mariners and those 2 teams have developed quite a strong rivalry. The travel expenses have got to be brutal for those 2 teams, especially.

  3. I am not suprised there in not allot more of these AA teams folding. Shame its all about the owners making money off theses poor “I’ve got no job now, played for no money in the ECHL for to many years.” Most players make about the same as a McDonalds employee, and spend hundreds of hours on buses and crappy hotels. Glad to see this happening!!!

    1. I don’t see owners making money off these teams. That’s not the nature of minor league sports. Nobody makes anything. The players would be the exception. These comments seem very jaded and off the mark.

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