ST. JOHN'S, NL - The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the club has agreed to an affiliation with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL beginning in 2018-19.
The Growlers replace the Orlando Solar Bears as the Maple Leafs' secondary affiliate and the primary affiliate of the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies. Orlando served as a Maple Leafs affiliate from 2013-18. This season, 10 players appeared for both the Marlies and the Solar Bears.
"We are excited to begin our relationship with the Newfoundland Growlers as our newest ECHL affiliate," said Kyle Dubas, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "This is an important investment for our hockey club as we remain committed to giving our players the best resources possible to ensure their development and professional success. To now have our ECHL affiliate in St. John's, Newfoundland, a town and province which has historically meant a lot to the Maple Leafs, is a truly special opportunity."
"We would also like to extend our thanks to the Orlando Solar Bears organization for their five years as an affiliate and partner of our hockey club and wish them success in the future," said Dubas.
"We are thrilled to announce our affiliation between the Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Marlies," stated Dean MacDonald, Chairman of Deacon Sports Enterprises. "The Toronto Maple Leafs have a rich and storied past and the Growlers are excited to be a part of their future. We wish to thank the Maple Leafs for their belief in our organization and we look forward to working with them as we bring ECHL hockey to the wonderful fans of our province."
The Growlers will compete in the North Division of the Eastern Conference of the 27-team league in their inaugural season and play out of Mile One Arena. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will be responsible for the filling the Growlers' vacancies on the coaching staff, medical staff and equipment staff.
St. John's was previously home to the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the St. John's Maple Leafs, from 1991-2005 before relocating to Toronto as the Toronto Marlies for the 2005-06 season. The club compiled a 486-452-143-34-5 (.515) record in 1,120 games over 14 seasons and aided the development of many Maple Leafs including Tomas Kaberle and Felix Potvin who were named two of the Top 100 Maple Leafs to play for the club in its first 100 seasons. St. John's made the postseason in 11 of 14 seasons as the Maple Leafs' primary affiliate, reaching the Calder Cup final in 1992.
Prior to agreeing with Orlando as an affiliate in 2013, the Maple Leafs had previous affiliations with Reading, Columbia and Pensacola of the ECHL.