Good morning Maple Leafs fans!
We're still a few days away from the Maple Leafs getting back onto the ice, but there's still some news to look at.
Species is out in Laval taking in the AHL All-Star Classic and will fill you in on that later. [SPECIES: I hate Alex Nylander]
Katya took a look at the salary cap:
And me? We'll I'm looking at the happenings down in the junior leagues.
In the OHL the news has been out for a while that while the City of Hamilton renovates the First Ontario Centre, the OHL Hamilton Bulldogs will relocate to the City of Brantford, just west of Hamilton. For up to three years.
It's disappointing for Bulldogs fans, the team has worked hard to develop into a top notch junior program, winning the OHL Championship in 2018 and 2022. The move may slow down momentum the team has been building, but will be a boon for hockey fans in Brantford. They will finally get a quality hockey program in town, with the lower level 99ers having been a laughingstock in their league for a few years.
The question though, is will the Bulldogs return?
Three years is a long time to be away from your core fan base. The struggle in Brantford is that their arena isn't up to OHL standards, but if the support is strong the move may stick and the city may invest in a larger arena.
First Ontario Centre had always been too big for the OHL, having been built in hopes of having an NHL team come to town. Some familiar with the area have said an AHL team may want to take residence after the renovations; Hamilton used to host various AHL affiliates of the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Montreal Canadiens in the past.
There's lots of time to speculate on the future of the Bulldogs and hockey on Hamilton. Speaking of speculation...
This rumours came out that the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL could move to Trois-Rivieres, who recently completed a new minor league arena and currently host the Trois-Rivieres Lions, the Montreal Canadiens ECHL affiliate.
The Armada have been in Blainville-Boisbriand since 2011, having previously been in Montreal and St. John's.
Attendance in Blainville-Boisbriand has been steadily declining since the team arrived, with the last couple seasons barely hanging around an average of 2000 people per game.
This move is a bit far fetched, as you couldn't host both an ECHL and QMJHL team in the same arena. Both leagues are weekend game focused and a low level pro league probably couldn't compete with a major junior league. There's problems with the WHL Hitmen and AHL Wranglers fighting for space in the Calgary Saddledome, and it would be more of the same in Trois-Rivieres.
If a Q team is on the move, the city of Cornwall has a large contingent of fans wanting the league to return to the city, and an arena that could host again, despite it's age.
Yes Cornwall is in Ontario but they seem to love the Q more than the OHL.
A few more links for you to talk about, and then we sit and wait for the Leafs game at the end of the week.
Leafs Rumour Report: Would Kyle Dubas pay up for a rental? Plus the current front-runners for Timo Meier & the Blues’ plan for Ryan O’Reilly
5 questions for Maple Leafs to answer in second half
Maple Leafs Need Boone Jenner, But Price Would Be Steep
Enjoy your day everyone!