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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