Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/5/2015 (2361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The open-ended move of the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate back to the MTS Centre will come into clearer focus on Monday when NHL team and True North Sports and Entertainment unveil some of the plans they have for the 2015-16 version of the team.
A press conference has been called for 11 a.m. Monday at the MTS Centre, which the Jets will share with their AHL team. The Winnipeg Free Press will be livestreaming the event.
In early March, the Jets took advantage of some fortunate timing to move up their scheduled departure from St. John’s, N.L., which had been the home of the AHL’s IceCaps since 2011.
Prior to that, the True North-owned AHL team that was known as the Manitoba Moose had played in Winnipeg — in the old Winnipeg Arena and then the MTS Centre — since joining the AHL in 2001. The Moose also belonged to the IHL between 1996 and 2001.
This time around, there has been nothing to even remotely suggest the franchise will simply become the Moose again. In fact, there have been vague hints since the early March news that True North may go a new way with the name for its repatriated team.
If that’s the case, could it be one of the names under consideration when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated here in 2011? It’s possible, though the AHL already has Falcons (Springfield) and Polar Bears has some overlap of another AHL club in Hershey (Bears).
The team’s new name, its logo and information about a ticket-sales drive are all expected to be unveiled on Monday.
Among those expected to attend will be IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge, who remains under contract. McCambridge, a Manitoba product, was an assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose for two seasons.
The AHL team here is expected to play a 76-game schedule in 2015-16 and belong to one of the league’s existing divisions. The AHL hasn’t yet taken up the decision on re-alignment after the creation of a new Pacific Division for this fall. Winnipeg will not be part of that west-coast initiative.
The team is landing back in Winnipeg after True North chairman Mark Chipman revealed more than a year ago he’d like to find somewhere closer to home for his AHL development team. He cited many logistical concerns, not the least of which was being able to move players to and from the AHL team more efficiently.
Chipman had entered into a potential agreement with a group in Thunder Bay, Ont., who were moving to construct a new downtown arena and were looking for a full-time tenant, but that project has since been scuttled.
Having last fall granted the St. John’s group, to whom he was leasing the franchise, an extra season through 2015-16, Chipman was able to make the exit from St. John’s a year earlier than scheduled when dominoes started falling elsewhere.
When Michael Andlauer, owner of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and the affiliate of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, purchased the OHL’s Belleville Bulls and was approved to move the team to Hamilton, that freed up the Montreal Canadiens to cut a deal with the hockey folks in St. John’s for the coming two seasons. Montreal's farm team will be moving to the suburbs there in two or three years but that new facility isn't ready and the team needed a home in the interim.
Those moves were approved by the AHL’s board of governors in early March, just a few days after word had leaked out that the wheels were already in motion.