For quite a while now our CHL insider Sam Cosentino has been talking about the Lewiston Maineiacs leaving Lewiston. Sam was half right. While we all thought they were going to PEI, it turns out they are going into thin air. This from the QMJHL tonight.
BOUCHERVILLE, Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Gilles Courteau, today announced that the Lewiston MAINEiacs franchise will be bought out by the League.I'm not sure anyone saw this coming. To scrap one team and give an expansion to another is an interesting move that could be very successful.
The decision was rendered this afternoon following a vote from League Members. The financial terms were not disclosed.
“Following a vote from League Members, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is purchasing the Lewiston MAINEiacs franchise,” said the Commissioner. “Therefore, the franchise will be dissolved and the players submitted to a special draft. Details surrounding a special dispersal draft will be unveiled as soon as they become available.”
The Commissioner added: “I am disappointed for the fans in Lewiston. The MAINEiacs enjoyed some very good moments, including a President Cup championship in 2007. I know that Mark Just and his ownership group did all that they could to save the franchise, but the situation was no longer viable.”
“I am truly sad for MAINEiacs fans,” added majority owner Mark Just. “For those that supported the team over the past few years, I would like to thank you. Nonetheless, mounting financial losses became too much to bear for our ownership group.”
The Commissioner also announced that following the 2011-12 season an expansion team will be awarded to a group of investors which is led by former QMJHL and NHL All-Star Jocelyn Thibault. The team will begin play in the 2012-13 season and will play its games at the Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet in the city of Sherbrooke.
“The QMJHL is very excited to welcome Sherbrooke back into its fold,” said the Commissioner. “With strong local ownership, I am convinced that major junior hockey will once again flourish in Sherbrooke.
In the next few days, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will work toward completing a seventeen team 2011-12 regular season schedule.