SJSE chairman says they haven't contacted Courteau about QMJHL returning here

John
John Browne
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Provincial men's CURLING championship Gerry Smith that doesn't mean they're not open to the idea, but says research shows AHL is still the local preference

St. John's Sports and Entertainment chair man Gerry Smith says he hasn't had any dialogue with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau concerning the possibility of obtaining a franchise for St. John's.

Courteau said in the Journal de Montreal Friday that the SJSE indicated last month a desire to have St. John's back in that circuit again.

St. John's Sports and Entertainment chair man Gerry Smith says he hasn't had any dialogue with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau concerning the possibility of obtaining a franchise for St. John's.

Courteau said in the Journal de Montreal Friday that the SJSE indicated last month a desire to have St. John's back in that circuit again.

However, Smith told The Telegram Monday, "We have not had any conversation with Courteau from the SJSE side.

"It's not that we won't talk to him," added Smith, "It's that we haven't had any discussions with the Q."

Smith said, "The information we got on the research we've done so far is that the fans have a preference for the American Hockey League (AHL).

"We're interested and we are exploring different options," said Smith. "We've gathered a lot of information on all kinds of things as far as various hockey models are concerned. We're not closing the door on anyone. If the right opportunity comes around we'll look at it.

"We don't have a preference, but we need to do our research to see what one (AHL or QMJHL) the fans support the most because that means the best opportunity for ticket revenue and things like that. We'll continue to update our research. "

"Everyone knows Mile One Centre and SJSE is certainly supportive of bringing hockey back here," said Smith, before adding "getting a QMJHL or AHL franchise for the 2009-10 season is "a stretch.

"I can't see it this fall," said Smith. "That's not to say it couldn't happen in 2009. but It takes time. It's a big process. We've done a lot of homework on various cost and revenue projections,

"I think 2010-11 is the better opportunity. As we move toward the fall of 2010, we are certainly in the market for hockey - AHL or whatever."

An American Hockey League exhibition series involving the Hamilton Bulldogs, Toronto Marlies and Manitoba Moose in September was used as a trial balloon to determine if there's still interest in the minor pro game in St. John's.

At the time, Smith described the games as "an important measuring stick" to see what "appetite" there is for pro hockey in St. John's.

A Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. Binghamton Senators regular-season game at Mile One Centre in November drew 3,149 spectators to Mile One Centre.

Smith said after the game that given the $24 ticket price he was pleased with the turnout. He said it provided SJSE with important data as it continues to explore options for a Mile One hockey tenant to take the place of the AHL Leafs, who left for Toronto in 2005, and the QMJHL's Fog Devils, who left for Montreal this past summer after three years in St. John's.

"Meeting with those teams certainly helped the process," said Smith Monday.

"There's still opportunity here," he noted "and it would be great to get hockey back at Mile One. I'd love to see it."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: American Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, AHL Leafs

Geographic location: St. John's, Bridgeport, Binghamton Montreal

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  • steve-o
    November 04, 2010 - 10:43

    The league that should be here is the QMJHL not AHL. Us getting the AHL back here is like Hamilton trying to move from the AHL to the NHL, it will only be temporary. If a QMJHL was here and marketed properly it would be sucessful, andmaybe have a name that represents the province as whole something like St. John's Patriots since we pride ourselves on bing the most patriotratic province in this country.

  • Tommy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    The AHL returning to St. John's is a pipe dream? And the ECHL? Are you living on fantasy island? If the Q couldn't sell in St. John's you can be sure that the ECHL won't either.

    Let's get serious, bring back the Q, call them the Caps and move on with it.

    Morrissey, the Owner of the A-B Titan, is talking about relocation. How about cut a deal with him, give him the rink and he gives SJSE so much of the profit. A deal that can satisfy both parties. Then everyone can be happy. Morrissey will have fans and SJSE will have a anchor tenant.

    Wait a minute, why wasn't this done with the Fog Devils. Oh yeah, this is SJSE. Let the circus continue.

  • Hockey Fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    People I've said it time and time again, GET OVER IT THE BABY LEAFS ARE NOT COMING BACK. If a random AHL team moved here, say Bridgeport for example, they would be lucky to average a 1000 people a game. The only reason the AHL did half decent it was here was because it was the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team, if it were the Montreal Canadien's farm team it would have the same success. All you people in la-la land need to realize that the baby leafs are not coming back to the Rock, if the AHL do come back here it will be some second rate team affiliated with The Islanders or Coyotes and they won't average a 1000 people a game. The Q is the future.

  • hockeykid
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    i was up in montreal in november to see the new QMJHL the Montreal Juniors ....there stadium is smaller but they get about the same attendance as the fogdevils did!!!

  • Mat
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I think St.john's should get a ECHL team I have seen this hockey in person and it's great hockey these guys give it 100% every game and it's hard hitting and the fights are great, it's just like the old caps games I tell ya a ECHL team would be great in St.john's and the fans would love it and liven up more at these games rather then when the leafs were in St.john's. ECHL all the way.

  • Inside
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Bill Hussey is correct in saying there was little or no Marketing for the QMJHL here.

    After Chris Shwartz and Patrick Penney left the Fog Devils organization, there truely was no Marketing done for the team, games, publicity. No tv commercials. The team still sold tickets, and still was 7th in QMJHL league attendance. Established teams such as Quebec and Halifax who average 11,000 and 8,000 plus a game were ahead.

    The Quebec Major Junior Hockey league can work here without a doubt. You just need a good Marketing personel to drive it home. Some TV Commercials, Perhaps a big logo outisde of Mile One Center.

    The St. John's Caps is a fantastic Idea. That name can relate to retro NL hockey era, and put a new look and twist on it for the Future of NL hockey. Something out Fore-Fathers could once relate too, now our children and there childrens children can follow the new and improved St. John's Caps.

    This is a Fantastic Idea!

  • GNL
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    cj is grumpy:

    As a Newfoundlander living in Fredericton, I can tell you that I don't think a QMJHL team would be very successful here. They have a hard time getting a crowd out to UNB games, I don't know how good it would be to try a Q team here. Plus, the Aitken Centre is really, really old. I don't know if it could support a team.

  • cj is grumpy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    the idea about the name and uniforms was mine. Problem is that Montreal now uses the same (or similar) jersey.
    Corteau and the quebec governors are never going to let a Nfld team back in that league, at least until Fredericton gets a team and Montreal has established a successful organization. Shame that it came to this though. Freddy and St John's would be perfect compliments to the league, and make a 20 team league (two divisions of 10 with top eight in each making the payoffs).

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    If this goes ahead, as someone who read the numerous articles regarding the Fog Devils leaving, here's what I think NEEDS to happen.

    1 -It's obvious SJSE wants to run the show the way they see fit. They scuttled Mr. Dobbin's attempt at setting up shop in St. John's by charging $10,000 rent per game. So the let the babies have their bottle and give SJSE control of the team to compliment their dictatorship, ah, control of Mile One.

    2 - Ticket prices - I'm just kidding, at $14 a ticket, that's a steal! Those that used the excuse should not go to games at all. If you can't afford $14 a ticket, then it's pretty obvious you should not be spending your hard earned money on hockey tickets in the first place and should instead be watching the game on tv at home.

    3 - Parking - I'm sick of hearing the continuous whining about the parking issue. The Fog Devils offered Park and Ride services for $2 return!!!!! You'd rather pay $10 event fee so your fat a$$ can park closer to Mile One. Get real, all major venues offer this service - USE IT. Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto all offer transit to their hockey venues because it DECREASES PARKING CONGESTION.

    4 - Promotion - The St. John's Maple Leafs had a cult following of fans - if promoted right, a QMJHL team can have that same passion and regular attendance. That said, someone had suggest the Fog Devils be called the St. John's Caps and used the retro uniforms - great idea - there should be no further discussion on this issue.

    5 - Drop the ''I'm not paying to see Juniors act - I read this comment a few times when the talk of getting another AHL or ECHL team to St. John's, a few wise guys said they weren't going to pay to watch 2nd class hockey. Fair enough - but you can demand an NHL team in St. John's and Crap in the other and see which one gets filled first.

    6 - Decent Lease - Drop the $10,000 per game rent - that's BS, SJSE knows it and the people of St. John's know it and the QMJHL knows it.

    If the above 6 can accomplished, any QMJHL team in St. John's or from any other league will do just fine.

    Nuff Said.

  • Bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Mr. Smith is trying to convince himself its the AHL people want back here.

    I have to laugh at how he's pleased with the 3100 turn out for the Bridgeport game..

    For that 1 hockey game, there were more marketing, TV Commercials, more Radio Commercials, more publicity then what was ever done by or for the QMJHL when it was here. You couldn't turn on the radio or NTV/CBC television without hearing or seeing something about getting you too that Bridgeport game.

    After all the Advertising they paid for, they managed too get 3100 people in the building. And Smith is Happy with that?

    Mr. Smith, please..think of the broader picture here, and get your head out of the sand.. While the QMJHL was here, average attendance was a ball park figure of 3800 the first year. And that was WITHOUT the marketing that you had to dish up for that bridgeport game.

    Put together a good marketing team like the one used for that single AHL game; and aQMJHL team here would sky-rocket those AHL attendance games. The numbers don't lie.

    Or....is it that you'd rather put the money towards marketing for the AHL. Afterall...we all know its what --you-- want.

    /end rant

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I agree with everything Mark from Mount Pearl said, except the first point.

    SJSE is not capable of owning and running a hockey team. Smith obviously knows nothing about hockey and doesn't have a clue what's going on. Any new team would have to be privately owned. SJSE has to be a more co-operative partner.

    Smith says he hasn't spoken to Courteau and the QMJHL, but apparently is willing to. What is he waiting for?

  • donald
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I feel the city of st.john's,nl do not know what to do.I would love to see hockey back here but,with the people of st.john's are too cheap and if the tickets were free you would have a sellout every game but they do not want to pay and that is too bad because their are true hockey fans that will miss out.

  • Danny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Mark, all your points are valid.
    I know the biggest thing is with having an organization in this market is making sure the people get behind it. In sport it is all about attendance, if you have nobody in the stands it is harder as a player to get motivated for an empty stadium. It is harder for the few there sitting in an empty row to feel passion about something when you are the only people there. Bottom line is it needs revenue to operate, so you need bums in seats. It is still a business which ever way you want to look at it.
    It wont be the Baby Leafs, it wont be the Foggiesit will be something new and exciting some day, and when that day comes we have to make sure we support it. With out the support of the community where will Mile One end up?

  • Tommy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    The AHL returning to St. John's is a pipe dream? And the ECHL? Are you living on fantasy island? If the Q couldn't sell in St. John's you can be sure that the ECHL won't either.

    Let's get serious, bring back the Q, call them the Caps and move on with it.

    Morrissey, the Owner of the A-B Titan, is talking about relocation. How about cut a deal with him, give him the rink and he gives SJSE so much of the profit. A deal that can satisfy both parties. Then everyone can be happy. Morrissey will have fans and SJSE will have a anchor tenant.

    Wait a minute, why wasn't this done with the Fog Devils. Oh yeah, this is SJSE. Let the circus continue.

  • Hockey Fan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    People I've said it time and time again, GET OVER IT THE BABY LEAFS ARE NOT COMING BACK. If a random AHL team moved here, say Bridgeport for example, they would be lucky to average a 1000 people a game. The only reason the AHL did half decent it was here was because it was the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team, if it were the Montreal Canadien's farm team it would have the same success. All you people in la-la land need to realize that the baby leafs are not coming back to the Rock, if the AHL do come back here it will be some second rate team affiliated with The Islanders or Coyotes and they won't average a 1000 people a game. The Q is the future.

  • hockeykid
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    i was up in montreal in november to see the new QMJHL the Montreal Juniors ....there stadium is smaller but they get about the same attendance as the fogdevils did!!!

  • Mat
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    I think St.john's should get a ECHL team I have seen this hockey in person and it's great hockey these guys give it 100% every game and it's hard hitting and the fights are great, it's just like the old caps games I tell ya a ECHL team would be great in St.john's and the fans would love it and liven up more at these games rather then when the leafs were in St.john's. ECHL all the way.

  • Inside
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Bill Hussey is correct in saying there was little or no Marketing for the QMJHL here.

    After Chris Shwartz and Patrick Penney left the Fog Devils organization, there truely was no Marketing done for the team, games, publicity. No tv commercials. The team still sold tickets, and still was 7th in QMJHL league attendance. Established teams such as Quebec and Halifax who average 11,000 and 8,000 plus a game were ahead.

    The Quebec Major Junior Hockey league can work here without a doubt. You just need a good Marketing personel to drive it home. Some TV Commercials, Perhaps a big logo outisde of Mile One Center.

    The St. John's Caps is a fantastic Idea. That name can relate to retro NL hockey era, and put a new look and twist on it for the Future of NL hockey. Something out Fore-Fathers could once relate too, now our children and there childrens children can follow the new and improved St. John's Caps.

    This is a Fantastic Idea!

  • GNL
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    cj is grumpy:

    As a Newfoundlander living in Fredericton, I can tell you that I don't think a QMJHL team would be very successful here. They have a hard time getting a crowd out to UNB games, I don't know how good it would be to try a Q team here. Plus, the Aitken Centre is really, really old. I don't know if it could support a team.

  • cj is grumpy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    the idea about the name and uniforms was mine. Problem is that Montreal now uses the same (or similar) jersey.
    Corteau and the quebec governors are never going to let a Nfld team back in that league, at least until Fredericton gets a team and Montreal has established a successful organization. Shame that it came to this though. Freddy and St John's would be perfect compliments to the league, and make a 20 team league (two divisions of 10 with top eight in each making the payoffs).

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    If this goes ahead, as someone who read the numerous articles regarding the Fog Devils leaving, here's what I think NEEDS to happen.

    1 -It's obvious SJSE wants to run the show the way they see fit. They scuttled Mr. Dobbin's attempt at setting up shop in St. John's by charging $10,000 rent per game. So the let the babies have their bottle and give SJSE control of the team to compliment their dictatorship, ah, control of Mile One.

    2 - Ticket prices - I'm just kidding, at $14 a ticket, that's a steal! Those that used the excuse should not go to games at all. If you can't afford $14 a ticket, then it's pretty obvious you should not be spending your hard earned money on hockey tickets in the first place and should instead be watching the game on tv at home.

    3 - Parking - I'm sick of hearing the continuous whining about the parking issue. The Fog Devils offered Park and Ride services for $2 return!!!!! You'd rather pay $10 event fee so your fat a$$ can park closer to Mile One. Get real, all major venues offer this service - USE IT. Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto all offer transit to their hockey venues because it DECREASES PARKING CONGESTION.

    4 - Promotion - The St. John's Maple Leafs had a cult following of fans - if promoted right, a QMJHL team can have that same passion and regular attendance. That said, someone had suggest the Fog Devils be called the St. John's Caps and used the retro uniforms - great idea - there should be no further discussion on this issue.

    5 - Drop the ''I'm not paying to see Juniors act - I read this comment a few times when the talk of getting another AHL or ECHL team to St. John's, a few wise guys said they weren't going to pay to watch 2nd class hockey. Fair enough - but you can demand an NHL team in St. John's and Crap in the other and see which one gets filled first.

    6 - Decent Lease - Drop the $10,000 per game rent - that's BS, SJSE knows it and the people of St. John's know it and the QMJHL knows it.

    If the above 6 can accomplished, any QMJHL team in St. John's or from any other league will do just fine.

    Nuff Said.

  • Bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Mr. Smith is trying to convince himself its the AHL people want back here.

    I have to laugh at how he's pleased with the 3100 turn out for the Bridgeport game..

    For that 1 hockey game, there were more marketing, TV Commercials, more Radio Commercials, more publicity then what was ever done by or for the QMJHL when it was here. You couldn't turn on the radio or NTV/CBC television without hearing or seeing something about getting you too that Bridgeport game.

    After all the Advertising they paid for, they managed too get 3100 people in the building. And Smith is Happy with that?

    Mr. Smith, please..think of the broader picture here, and get your head out of the sand.. While the QMJHL was here, average attendance was a ball park figure of 3800 the first year. And that was WITHOUT the marketing that you had to dish up for that bridgeport game.

    Put together a good marketing team like the one used for that single AHL game; and aQMJHL team here would sky-rocket those AHL attendance games. The numbers don't lie.

    Or....is it that you'd rather put the money towards marketing for the AHL. Afterall...we all know its what --you-- want.

    /end rant

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    I agree with everything Mark from Mount Pearl said, except the first point.

    SJSE is not capable of owning and running a hockey team. Smith obviously knows nothing about hockey and doesn't have a clue what's going on. Any new team would have to be privately owned. SJSE has to be a more co-operative partner.

    Smith says he hasn't spoken to Courteau and the QMJHL, but apparently is willing to. What is he waiting for?

  • donald
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I feel the city of st.john's,nl do not know what to do.I would love to see hockey back here but,with the people of st.john's are too cheap and if the tickets were free you would have a sellout every game but they do not want to pay and that is too bad because their are true hockey fans that will miss out.

  • Danny
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Mark, all your points are valid.
    I know the biggest thing is with having an organization in this market is making sure the people get behind it. In sport it is all about attendance, if you have nobody in the stands it is harder as a player to get motivated for an empty stadium. It is harder for the few there sitting in an empty row to feel passion about something when you are the only people there. Bottom line is it needs revenue to operate, so you need bums in seats. It is still a business which ever way you want to look at it.
    It wont be the Baby Leafs, it wont be the Foggiesit will be something new and exciting some day, and when that day comes we have to make sure we support it. With out the support of the community where will Mile One end up?