St. John’s Franchise Likely Moving West to Thunder Bay

Some curious news out of the American Hockey League today involving one of the league’s most successful franchises. It is appears that the Winnipeg Jets are planning to pick up their American Hockey League affiliate from St. John’s, Newfoundland and relocate them to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Though only in its second year of existence, St. John’s routinely sells out games and ranks sixth in the AHL in average attendence with 6,287 fans per home date. However, the team is also remotely located, and a far-cry from its parent club in Winnipeg.

Why this concerns Milwaukee is the divisional breakdown of the AHL. Currently, Milwaukee fits comfortably in the Midwest Division, with fellow logical local foes Grand Rapids, Chicago, Rockford and Iowa. With St. John’s moving potentially moving west to Thunder Bay, it would only make sense to move that franchise into the Western Conference, replacing it in the east with a whole host of potential options like Rochester, Charlotte, Utica or another franchise.

Then again, despite its remoteness, I would think that St. John’s would look pretty attractive to another struggling AHL franchise, especially after hosting the likely-to-be highly successful 2014 AHL All Star Classic. AHL franchise moving season is far from over, but it seems at least one big shake up will again occur. At the very worst, Milwaukee will likely be gaining a new foe a long bus ride or short flight away.

So Roundtable… Do you know the way to Thunder Bay?

5 thoughts on “St. John’s Franchise Likely Moving West to Thunder Bay”

  1. This is very surprising! St. John’s is truly one of the AHL’S best cities. I think they would be a very attractive place for current struggling AHL franchise to move to. I think they would probably put Thunder bay in Midwest division and move Grand Rapids to the North division and bump Utica to the eastern conference.

  2. Todd, when I originally read the story, that was kind of what I was thinking might happen. But not long ago Winnipeg had an AHL team and they played in the same division as Hamilton and Toronto, so the AHL could easily elect to follow that option and put Thunder Bay in the North while bumping Utica out east. However, the AHL chess pieces are only beginning to move. My guess is there is at least one more franchise destined to be relocated before the drop of the puck on the 2014-2015 AHL season which could change the whole dynamic.

    Personally, despite their success, I really like having Grand Rapids in the same division as Milwaukee. So I hope the current Midwest Division block remains the same for a little while going forward.

  3. I’d have to agree with Jason in that there will probably be some other teams moving relatively soon. Just look at some of the attendance figures. Pretty atrocious.

    Really glad we have an independently-owned team.

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