The rumblings of a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team serving as primary tenant at Mile One Centre get louder every day.
But should a team — say the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who just hired former Fog Devils coach Real Paiement as head coach — play under St. John's Sports and Entertainment's roof again, will it work?
As the Fog Devils' honeymoon in St. John's was coming to an end, the fan support simply wasn't there. There are a lot of theories as to why it didn't fly. Some suggested it was the parking downtown on cold winter nights, forcing you to slog 20 minutes up the road (through the poorly plowed sidewalks). Others made the just claim that the team wasn't marketed properly to appeal to this people of St. John's. But a large majority felt the product on the ice simply wasn't worth supporting.
But the casual fan in this province fails to understand that the major junior system across the country is meant to develop players. Major Junior is a cyclical system, meaning it takes two or three seasons to develop a team capable of going all the way. Take the Windsor Spitfires for example; four years ago they didn't stand a chance of winning the Memorial Cup. Yet four years later, they're back-to-back champs. Give a major junior team time and the proper management and you're destined to ice a great team.
I'm willing to admit it's not AHL-calibre hockey. Far from it. But let's face it, this market is not big enough to support an NHL farm club anymore. If they aren't going to Halifax of Saint John anymore, they aren't coming all the way here.
With an AHL club, there's no consistency. Remember those first two years the Baby Buds were playing at Memorial Stadium and how, without fail, some key player would be called up to to Toronto? Remember when they ripped Felix Potvin away from us? Followed by Yannick Perrault, Alyn McCauley, Damian Rhodes, and a score of others. With the Q, guys are here for four years or more.
Ask anyone close to hockey at the AAA midget level and they'll tell you having a Quebec major junior presence here attracts more scouts and thereby gives more opportunities for local kids to be seen and drafted. During the Foggies stint, dozens of kids were drafted, more than ever before. Last year, just two years after the Fog Devils moved to Montreal, three kids were taken and two of them — Paradise's Andrew Ryan and Goulds' James Melindy — were playing for the Notre Dame, Saskatchewan Hounds.
Just a few thoughts... keep checking Telegram Sports for news on a potential tenant for Mile One.