The defending OHL champions will be on the move next season. The Hamilton Bulldogs announced plans for a temporary relocation to Brantford, Ontario, today, with their home arena in Hamilton set to go through a long-term closure and renovation.
While the relocation to Brantford is technically temporary, the team fully embraces the geographical shift. For the time being, the franchise will change its name and branding to the Brantford Bulldogs.
Team owner Michael Andlauer, who has previously been linked in discussions to purchase the Ottawa Senators, gave the following statement:
We are so thankful for the enthusiastic and immediate response from Mayor Davis, Brantford Council and city staff. Together, we have been able to make a home for the Bulldogs in a short and unexpected period of time.
Hamilton’s home arena, the FirstOntario Centre, is set to close for 20 months starting in late summer. Based on the timeline, the door is open for the Bulldogs to return to Hamilton for the 2025-26 season.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, most of the core which won the 2022 OHL championship has moved on — such is the turn of the tide in junior hockey. With top prospects such as Mason Mctavish, Arber Xhekaj, and Jan Mysak turning pro, the team is floating around the .500 mark in 2022-23 and sold at the league’s trade deadline last month.
While the Bulldogs are struggling this season, they still boast a pair of NHL-affiliated prospects in Jorian Donovan (OTT) and Artem Grushnikov (DAL). Both players could return when the franchise opens up in Brantford next year.