Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fog Devils to flee Newfoundland

Major Junior hockey is about to follow the American Hockey league on the road out of St. John’s Newfoundland.

RDS, the French language sports network leaked details of an arrangement by the current owners of the St. John’s Fog Devils to sell the franchise to Quebec based interests, who plan on relocating the Quebec Junior League franchise to Verdun. It’s a move that will return the Q back to the Montreal area for the first time in a number of years.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise, as the league’s commissioner Gilles Courteau, had been reported as recently as Tuesday that the league would not return to Quebec’s largest city until there was a proper venue in place in the Greater Montreal area for junior hockey.

The negotiations between the Fog Devils and the new owners seem to put an end to that desire, with renovations planned for the Verdun Auditorium in time for the 2008-09 season.

The Fog Devils cited a number of reasons for their demise, from massive losses over the last two years, to a onerous travel subsidy that the Fog Devils must pay for visiting teams to come to Newfoundland, part of the deal when they joined the Q was that they would pick up all expenses for the visiting clubs when they made their trip to the far east outpost of the loop.

Last year the Fog Devils lost 750 thousand dollars and ownership says their on a pace to come very close to that number once again. Making for a million and a half dollar hit that they just can’t afford to take any longer.

Also high on the problem list was a lease arrangement with Mile One stadium, that was described as unfavourable and one which the owners felt they would never get out from under.

The Fog Devils will play out their string for 22 more games and then like the baby Maple Leafs of the American Hockey league days, they will bid farewell to Newfoundland.

Providing an expensive end to what now soon to be former owner Brad Dobbin once called a slam dunk. A notion that Dobbin and many others in St. John now realize wasn’t so.

Montreal Gazette--Fog Devils chart course for Verdun
St. John's Telegram--Fog Devils snuffed
St. John's Telegram--Game Over

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