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Photo Credit: Nick Barden

Report From The Rock: Growlers hire head coach and other notes

This will go down in history as one of the hardest articles I’ve had to write. Not because it involves heavy subject matter or anything like that, I mean that it was physically difficult for me to finish and submit this article because of thundershowers continually knocking out the power and internet as I attempted to write, so let’s get to it while my connection lasts.

New Head Coach Hired

On Friday, the Growlers announced that Eric Wellwood has been hired as the head coach after the position was vacated when John Snowden was promoted to an assistant coach position with the Toronto Marlies.

Wellwood, 31, was the coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds for the past three seasons and became the winningest coach in that franchise’s history in 2020.

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“I am grateful for the opportunity to coach in this league with a top-notch organization as the next head coach of the Growlers,” said Wellwood in the official press release. “I can’t wait to get to St. John’s and meet the staff, players and the fans.”

The Wellwood name is a familiar one to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Eric’s brother, Kyle, was a 5th round draft pick of the Maple Leafs in the 2001 entry draft and played five seasons with the organization, including two seasons in the AHL with the St. John’s Maple Leafs.

Welcome aboard Eric, and best of luck

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Local Legends Returning?

Let’s file this one under speculation for now, but on August 17, EV Landshut of the DEL2 league announced that former Growlers (and St. John’s natives) Zach O’Brien and Marcus Power would not be returning to their club. Interestingly, the team claims that Power and O’Brien are breaching their contracts by choosing to return to North America.

O’Brien scored 46 points in 41 games with the Growlers in the 2019-2020 season, and Power netted 50 points in 51 games.

Neither the Newfoundland Growlers nor Toronto Marlies have officially announced that the players have signed yet, so we’ll keep an eye on this situation.

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Arena Lease Negotiations Update

While there has been no solid progress since my last article which covered the dispute in detail (check it out here), there is at least a possible light at the end of this very long tunnel.

On a local radio call-in show on August 19, a city councillor with St. John’s disclosed that negotiations are ongoing with the Growlers to secure a lease agreement and that news on that potential deal should break “within the next week.”

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While myself and other fans maintain that the correct course of action would be to sell the Mile One Center to the Growlers ownership group, due to the current building management’s track record of incompetence, at the very least a lease agreement would guarantee that the Growlers get to return to play in front of their home fans, as opposed to them returning to a temporary home in Ontario or elsewhere in the country. We’ll have more news on this story as it happens.