The Saint John Sea Dogs kick off their 15th season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Friday night. The Dogs have made no secret that this is a big year for the franchise both on the ice and off.
“We look at a young corps that we have that we believe can take a good step here this year,” said Sea Dogs Head Coach Josh Dixon.
“It’s a growth year for our team there’s no question about it. We believe our team in the next few years will be ready to contend for a championship.”
“We got a good young team. very skilled, very fast team and that’s exciting for us,” added team captain Nicolas Guay.
That sentiment extends to the front office. “Not this season but next season (and) the year after (we) want to make legitimate championship runs,” said Dogs president and general Manager Trevor Georgie. “Obviously we have aspirations of hosting the Memorial Cup here in ’21, ’22.”
The Sea Dogs organization has spoken fairly openly about its financial problems of late and its money losing ways on a yearly basis. The team has received funding from the city and recently signed a sponsorship agreement with TD for naming rights of the city’s main arena now known as TD Station.
“We don’t say it proudly that we lose money but the reason that we do is the investment in our players and the investment in this team,” explained Georgie.
Nonetheless it has led to questions about how long a money losing team can be maintained.
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Georgie says the 5-year commitment made by the team and owner Scott McCain makes a statement.
“If we weren’t prepared to sustain that for the next five years we wouldn’t have done that,” Georgie says. “But look you always need more fan support…you always need more partners.”
And the man behind the bench thinks this group may be able to turn some heads sooner rather than later.
“Continue to get better as we get towards Christmas and then really make a solid push into the playoffs and move up the standings as we get towards the second half of the season,” Dixon said.
The Sea Dogs and Halifax Mooseheads kick off their seasons Friday night at TD Station with the Dogs following that up Saturday against provincial rival Moncton .