Six years after the Maple Leafs played their final American Hockey League game in St. John’s, the league is returning to the city for the 2011-12 hockey season.
The Telegram can confirm an announcement outlining the relocation of the Manitoba Moose franchise to Mile One Centre is set for 1 o’clock next Friday afternoon.
Ironically, the Maple Leafs franchise, which lasted 14 years at Memorial Stadium and Mile One, played its final game in Winnipeg on April 30, 2005, when the Moose eliminated St. John’s from the Calder Cup playoffs.
Sources indicate this transaction has been ongoing for some time, but has been contingent upon Winnipeg landing an NHL franchise.
At first glance, this seems like a logistical nightmare considering the Canucks are 4 1/2 time zones away, but wait, there’s more:
Since 2001-02, when the Moose joined the AHL after five years in the old International Hockey League, Manitoba has been the primary farm team of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. However, with the transfer of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg, the new St. John’s club will be the farm team of the fledgling Winnipeg franchise, with the Canucks looking elsewhere for an AHL partner.
The Thrashers’ AHL affiliate had been the Chicago Wolves. Because Chicago owns the AHL franchise and not Atlanta, the minor league club is not part of the NHL transaction leaving the Wolves to find an NHL partner.
That partner could be the Canucks.
Wouldn’t that be something if the Canucks’ minor-league affiliate was based in Chicago? In a way, that’s almost as odd as the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate being based in Canucks country.
More to follow.