After a year filled with rumors on where the Winnipeg Jets would relocate its American Hockey League affiliate, Chairman of the Board for True North Sports & Entertainment Mark Chipman announced today that there would be no place like home for the club, as the Manitoba Moose are returning to the AHL four years after a successful 15-year run in the province.
The Moose will also be returning to their old rink as the MTS Centre will play host to the team, along with its parent club, the Jets. Manitoba becomes the second AHL to carry that arrangement, with San Jose as the other team which will house it’s primary development club (Barracuda) in the same rink. Toronto’s AHL Marlies are located in the same city as the Maple Leafs (and also share a practice facility), but play just down the road at the Ricoh Centre.
The biggest change for the Moose compared to its former incarnation is the color scheme, as the team will take on the same blues and grays to match Winnipeg, while essentially retaining its former logo. The Moose averaged 8,404 fans per game in their final season prior to relocating to St. John’s when Jets returned to Winnipeg in 2011-2012.
St. John’s which is losing the IceCaps, will gain the franchise formerly known as the Hamiliton Bulldogs, as Montreal’s primary affiliate will play in Newfoundland during the 2015-16 AHL season and another year beyond at minimum. The IceCaps name will carry over to the new team. Thunder Bay, Ontario was originally rumored as a destination for Winnipeg’s AHL franchise, but True North announced that it was moving the IceCaps to Winnipeg in March.
The addition of Winnipeg, means that further geographical redistribution of the AHL will be required this summer by the league.