St. John's rocked by junior decision

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

Mile One Stadium in St. John's soon will resemble so many other hockey arenas around North America. It will be empty.

With the St. John's Maple Leafs bolting for Toronto this spring, those on the Rock were anticipating the arrival of the expansion Fog Devils for the 2005-06 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season.

But a lease dispute between Fog Devils president Derm Dobbin and St. John's Sports & Entertainment (SJSE), the organization that runs Mile One, has caused QMJHL officials to suspend the team's operations next season.

"Between the Leafs leaving and now this, it's really been a one-two punch," Baby Leafs vice-president Glenn Stanford said last night. "People here are shocked and bitter."

None more so than those employees of the two organizations who will be hunting for work in the near future.

Nine days ago Stanford had the unenviable task of informing Baby Leafs front office staff that their services no longer will be required after May 31.

Now there comes word from Dobbin that 14 Fog Devil staff members will be laid off because of the breakdown in negotiations with SJSE.

"We all worked so hard in this community to get a replacement team for the Maple Leafs," Stanford said. "There was so much momentum going on here with the arrival of the junior team. And now this."

Stanford, by the way, also will be out of a job come the summer.

"The people who work the ticket booths, the ushers, the vendors who depend on those 35 home dates a year, those are the ones you really feel for," Stanford said.

"As for me, I appreciate everything that the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has done for me. I have no regrets."


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