Exciting news out of St. John’s, Newfoundland this morning… it’s been announced that True North Sports and Entertainment, the owner of the new Winnipeg Thrashers and former Manitoba Moose have relocated that franchise to the far east city of St. John’s. The St. John’s team will be the top affiliate of the Winnipeg Thrashers.
This is the second AHL franchise to find it’s way to St. John’s. The St. John’s Maple Leafs played there from 1991-2005. They also formerly had a QMJHL team, the St. John’s Fog Devils, who after three short seasons relocated to Montreal in 2008.
As far as NHL parent clubs go, previously, the Atlanta Thrashers were affiliated with the Chicago Wolves, and the Moose were the team of the Vancouver Canucks, which means the Canucks and Wolves are both without affiliates, though I would be surprised if those two teams link up. Ultimately, I believe this is just the first of many AHL affiliation dominos that are going to fall, with word of the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans aligning, leaving the Florida Panther’s on the prowl for a new affiliate, and the current Sabres club, the Portland Pirates, searching. The bottom line is there are still going to be a lot of changes between now and the puck drop on the 2011-12 season.
The presence of an AHL team in Atlantic Canada adds further fuel to relocation rumors. Currently, the Moose are a part of the Western conference. By moving to Newfoundland, they will be located on the farthest east part of North America, a region which has it’s own timezone, Newfoundland Time Zone, which is 1.5 hours ahead of Eastern time. If they were to travel to Abbotsford, it would be well over 3000 miles. Here is a google map with pinpoints of where the 30 AHL squads are, color coded according to divisions…. it’s pretty incredible to see the hot zone in the Northeast, and then small pockets of team spread out elsewhere, and places like Charlotte, Abbotsford, Oklahoma City, Norfolk and Abbotsford not particularly close to anyone else.
For Checkers fans who dream of seeing a game in Newfoundland (and that would be me!!!! I’ve ALWAYS dreamed of visiting that province! Seriously… I own travel books on it. It’s AMAZING there, from what I hear) expect to pay about $1000 to fly there round-trip, and make one or two stops. From what I can tell, the two cities closest to us in Charlotte with direct flights to Newfoundland are Newark, NJ and Toronto, Ontario. So if you get to one of those places, you’ll have no problems getting to St. John’s! Personally, I’d be happy to stow away in a stick bag or something to get a trip to St. John’s with the team. It’s been a long time dream of me to visit the Atlantic Canadian provinces, with Newfoundland on the top of that list. (One of my favorite bands is from there, and the landscape of the province is said to remind you of Ireland, my favorite non-North American travel destination.