As expected, the Manitoba Moose are no more.
The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors unanimously approved on Friday the relocation of the franchise owned by True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd. from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, for next season.
The move has been rumored since True North began making overtures to purchase the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and move them to Winnipeg weeks ago. True North and the Atlanta Spirit Group, which owns the Thrashers, finalized the sale May 31, and formal approval is expected when the NHL Board of Governors meet June 21 in New York.
The new St. John’s team will be the top developmental affiliate of the new Winnipeg entry, which will not be called the Moose. But the team will adopt the colors of Winnipeg’s new franchise, which also is unnamed so far after being the Jets in the World Hockey Association and NHL.
“Too many negative connotations, with all the moose-vehicle accidents we have in this province,” Newfoundland premier Danny Williams told the St. John’s Telegram. “We don’t want to be launching a tam nicknamed Moose in September when there are reports of accidents involving moose all over the news.”
Before the relocation was even announced, Williams was so confident a deal would be struck that he held a press conference late Wednesday to announce his agreement to have the Moose move to St. John’s and play in Mile One Centre. Williams said he had agreements to lease the franchise from True North for four or five years and a new lease with St. John’s Sports and Entertainment to play in the city’s newer rink this fall.
In 2005, the AHL’s St. John’s Maple Leafs were relocated to Toronto and became the Marlies after 14 seasons on The Rock. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s St. John’s Fog Devils were founded in 2005 but left to become the Montreal Juniors in 2008.
“The American Hockey League is excited to be returning to St. John’s,” AHL president and CEO David Andrews said in a release Friday. “The people of Newfoundland and Labrador showed tremendous support for our league in the past, and we’re confident that passion will return to Mile One Centre this fall.”
Former St. John’s Maple Leafs executive Glenn Stanford, the current president of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, will be returning to his home province to assume control of the team.
FORMER SOUND TIGERS COACH NAMED ELMIRA BOSS
Pat Bingham, who took over as Bridgeport Sound Tigers coach after Jack Capuano was promoted to New York Islanders coach on Nov. 15, has been named coach of the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals and will begin his new job July 1.
The Sound Tigers did not retain Bingham after they went 24-30-4-7 under his direction and missed the playoffs when they finished seventh in the Atlantic Division at 28-38-4-7 despite winning seven of their last 10 games and had points in 12 of their last 15 starts.
Bingham, 42, a John Brophy Award winner as the ECHL’s Coach of the Year in 2004, is the ninth coach in Jackals history after spending four seasons with the Sound Tigers. He was an assistant in 2007-10, helping develop the many of the young players who made significant contributions to the resurgence of the Islanders in the second half of last season.
As a head coach, Bingham is 290-174-41 with the CHL’s Huntsville Channel Cats, UHL’s Fort Wayne Komets, Adirondack IceHawks and Asheville Smoke and the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. He played professionally for seven seasons (1989-96) and won the ECHL’s Riley Cup with the Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991.