Six years after the Maple Leafs played their final American Hockey League game in St. John’s, the league is returning to the city for the 2011-12 hockey season.
The Telegram can confirm an announcement outlining the relocation of the Manitoba Moose franchise to Mile One Centre is set for 1 o’clock next Friday afternoon.
Ironically, the Maple Leafs franchise, which lasted 14 years at Memorial Stadium and Mile One, played its final game in Winnipeg on April 30, 2005, when the Moose eliminated St. John’s from the Calder Cup playoffs.
Sources indicate this transaction has been ongoing for some time, but has been contingent upon Winnipeg landing an NHL franchise.
With the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Manitoba a done deal, only the official signing of papers is needed to complete the AHL transaction.
The Telegram has also learned the new St. John’s franchise will remain the property of Mark Chipman’s True North Sports and Entertainment for at least one year, at which time the team will be purchased by local ownership.
The prospective new owner is former premier Danny Williams.
It’s been Williams, vice-chairman of the initial St. John’s Maple Leafs’ board of directors, and Glenn Stanford, the team’s director of operations during its 14-year run, who have worked with Chipman and True North over the past several weeks spearheading the relocation deal.
I’ll miss the Moose. But I’ll take an NHL franchise over those ungulates. The main reason being we can now beat the crap out of the Edmonton Oilers.