Newfoundlanders won't get a chance to support a major hockey franchise of any sort next season. St. John's is losing its American Hockey League franchise, which is moving to Toronto next season, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last week pulled the plug on an expansion franchise for the city.
The St. John's Fog Devils were to begin playing at Mile One Stadium in September. But team owners and the city, which operates the arena, could not reach a deal on a lease prior to last week's deadline imposed by the league.
"To think padlocks will be on that place next fall is astounding," Derm Dobbin, the team's president and CEO, told The Telegram of St. John's.
Dobbin believes the city is asking too much for the lease, while arena administrators say they couldn't cover costs with the rent team owners are willing to pay.
All's not lost. QMJHL president Gilles Courteau said the Fog Devils could still start playing next season if the club gets a lease for the arena soon. Otherwise, the team will need to wait until the 2006-07 season.
The QMJHL also awarded an expansion franchise to Saint John, N.B., and will operate six teams in the Maritimes next year.
SITUATION CRITICAL: 67's coach Brian Kilrea raised a few eyebrows after last week's 5-1 loss on home ice to Brampton when he said, "We aren't a good team." Kilrea delivered more harsh words following Thursday's loss in Peterborough. "There are not a lot of rinks that have been kind to us because we're not that good a team," he told the Peterborough Examiner, referring to his team's 9-15-4-1 road record, "When you don't have enough good players, you don't win consistently." Every team in the OHL East except last-place Oshawa has a better road record than Ottawa.
ANDRE THE GIANT: The OHL awarded January's defenceman of the month award to St. Albert native Andre Benoit of the Kitchener Rangers. Benoit also won the award in October.
SLAP SHOTS: The Brockville Braves beat the Nepean Raiders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brad Deakin during CJHL action on Friday. Andrew Mather tied the game for Nepean with 32 seconds left in regulation ... Timothy Garden-Cole made 40 saves as the Smiths Falls Bears downed the Ottawa Jr. Senators 5-0.