The End of the AHL in St. John’s, Part 2

Place-Bell
The new home of the Montreal Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate for 2017-18 will be Laval, Quebec’s Place Bell. (Photo via allhabs.net)

It seems the American Hockey League’s musical chairs of franchise realignment was not quite done for the summer of 2016.

In the end the city without a chair is not Springfield, Massachusetts, but once again St. John’s, Newfoundland, as the Montreal Canadiens announced that they are moving their AHL affiliate to Laval (suburban Montreal) for the 2017-18 season.

Therefore, the residents of Canada’s most eastern province will have one more season of AHL hockey before the IceCaps relocate to the Canadiens’ backyard in the new Place Bell in Laval.

For now no team is expected to replace the IceCaps in St. John’s, which housed Winnipeg’s top affiliate from 2011-15 and Montreal’s from 2015-18. Despite strong attendance and success on the ice St. John’s is another prime example of a city left behind by the AHL because it is located too far away from its parent NHL club.

This is the second time that St. John’s is losing its AHL franchise altogether. Prior to the 2004-05 season Toronto’s AHL affiliate franchise, the St. John’s Maple Leafs, relocated to the Ricoh Coliseum in the Queen City. That team began play in Newfoundland in 1991-92.

No additional realignment is to be expected with this move as Laval would be an even better geographic fit in the league’s North Division along with foes Toronto, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton.

Are you surprised by Montreal’s decision to relocate its top affiliate to Laval? Are you surprised it is moving to Laval and not Quebec City? Does the future foresee another AHL franchise in St. John’s?

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11 thoughts on “The End of the AHL in St. John’s, Part 2”

  1. Well something is going to have to happen. I’m thinking that Vancouver will move utica to Seattle next year and where will Las Vegas’ franchise end up, Portland or Salt Lake City?? This will move San Antonio and Texas back to our division and move Lake Erie and Charlotte out. Just saying next offseason will be crazy too.

  2. And everyone thinks that manitoba will move to Thunder Bay Ontario. Could we see the Blues move their team to Kansas City? What would the wolves do for a team at that point? And Better Question….. When does Nashville put down long term routes here? Like the term of the Ads lease type of roots???

  3. I think moving the team out of St. John’s makes sense for the AHL too. Much like Abbotsford, there’s just no good way to get there and the travel in and out for all teams sucks.
    I don’t follow your second post Adsfan. Why would the Jets move their affiliate when they play in the same stadium? Also, as for the blues, St. Louis isn’t that far from Chicago (really Rosemont).

    Regarding the Ads, I can’t see the Preds wanting to buy an AHL franchise in the near future, just like the Panthers recently probably could have bought the Pirates franchise, but chose not too. Financially for the Panthers and Preds it’s probably a smarter move to shore up internal financials first (or continue that way for a bit longer). I also don’t see the Preds giving the Ads a longer term contract.

    The real question is, to me at least, how long before the whole AHL is all the same owners as the affiliated NHL team? Ten years from now? Who will be the last holdout owners to sell? My bet would be Lake Erie (Dan Snyder also owns the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans arena), the Rampage (owner also owns the Spurs), Chicago (fantastic following for a minor league team) and the Ads (have faith in Harris).

  4. It’s coming eventually for us too I feel. Most teams AHL team will be in the backyard of the NHL parent, Milwaukee is just too far for Nashville and at some point that will happen either in a relocation or buying an AHL franchise and placing it in somewhere close like Memphis. The Wolves and Ads along with a few others I wish would be welcomed to compete in the A without primary affiliation but I don’t see it happening. We maybe in E before too long still will enjoy it cause it’s hockey.

  5. @frj: Milwaukee is 90 air minutes from Nashville. I have taken the flight myself in a relatively small plane, probably 50 seats. It was almost a full plane a few years ago. Now, it looks like you have to go through Atlanta or Charlotte to get to Nashville, or fly out of Chicago O’Hare for $500. The alternative is a 8 hour drive according to Google. I have done that a bunch of times. Getting through Chicago is the hard part. Indy and Louisville have little traffic, unless there is an accident.
    Memphis is a crime ridden city and a 3 hour drive to Nashville.

    I would believe Duluth, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb and 4 hour drive, before Memphis. Charlotte is a 6 hour drive through the mountains.

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