TRUE NORTH is holding back its official stamp of approval but former Newfoundland premier Danny Williams is so confident of a deal that he held a press conference late Wednesday to announce his agreement to relocate the AHL's Manitoba Moose to St. John's and Mile One Centre.
Williams said he's got agreements to lease the Moose franchise from True North for four or five years and a new lease with St. John's Sports and Entertainment to play in the city's newer rink starting this fall.
Of course, the paperwork and approval from the AHL's board of governors will be required, but may be just formalities, Williams said.
The new team on The Rock will be Winnipeg's new AHL affiliate but it will not be called the Moose, Williams told the St. John's Telegram.
"Too many negative connotations, with all the moose-vehicle accidents we have in this province," Williams told the Telegram. "We don't want to be launching a team nicknamed Moose in September when there are reports of accidents involving moose all over the news."
Williams did say the franchise would, however, adopt the colours of Winnipeg's new NHL franchise.
Former St. John's Maple Leafs (AHL) executive Glenn Stanford, currently the president of the Hamilton Bulldogs, will be returning to his home province to take the helm of the team.
Williams told local reporters there is work yet to be done, especially after last week's snag that saw the provincial government deny his request for a $500,000 subsidy for the new hockey business there, and an anchor tenant for the city's arena.
He said he then had to restructure his deals to make the numbers work, but thinks they can.
"We haven't put anything to paper yet," Williams told the Telegram. "We've got an agreement in principle (with SJSE) and the same goes for an affiliation agreement with True North.
"Once those are locked in, we should know the ticket prices."