Jets AHL affiliate moving back to Winnipeg

It was announced Wednesday that the St. John’s
IceCaps will be leaving Newfoundland following the 2014-15 season.

The IceCaps franchise will be returning to
Winnipeg after a four-year stint on the rock. The IceCaps franchise spent a
total of 15 seasons in Manitoba’s capital as the Manitoba Moose in the
International Hockey League (five seasons) and the American Hockey League (10
seasons). Before it’s 15 year run in Winnipeg, the Moose/IceCaps franchise
played in Minnesota for two seasons.

The Manitoba Moose were relocated to
Winnipeg following the departure of the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets,
and over the next 15 years they were a huge part of the culture of Winnipeg.

In their 15-year history, the Moose were
AHL Regular Season Champions once (2008-09), Division Champs twice (2006-07 and
2008-09) and made it to the Calder Cup Finals once in 2008-09. They missed the
AHL playoffs only once in the 10 seasons the team was in the AHL and missed the
playoffs just once in the IHL. In other words, the Moose kept fans well into
May most seasons.

The most successful season for the Manitoba
Moose came during the 2008-09 season when the team lead the AHL in total points
(107), wins (50), and goals against (188). The Moose were finally able to make
it to the Calder Cup Finals after years of heartbreaking losses in the
Conference semi-finals and finals. Unfortunately the Moose would lose the
finals to the Hershey Bears by a 4-2 series score.


When it was announced the NHL was returning
to Winnipeg, many were left unsure if the city would support a NHL and AHL
team, the Moose were quickly shipped off to St. John’s where they have been inconsistent
at best. They did make a Calder Cup run during the 2013-14 season only to lose
to the Texas Stars in the finals by a 4-1 series score.

Since they were a part of the AHL meant the
Moose were required to be an affiliate to an NHL team, that being the Vancouver
Canucks. Being an affiliate team had both it’s perks and its faults. The
positives of being someone’s “farm team” means fans got to see some of the
bright young stars drafted and signed by the parent team. The Moose benefitted
from this having future Canucks superstars Ryan Kesler, Cory Schneider, Kevin
Bieksa, Eddie Lack, Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond and Alex Edler. That being said
when those players were deemed NHL-ready they were called-up and were not seen
again.

On the flipside, the Moose also received
former NHLers who just didn’t fit into the NHL anymore, and they helped mentor
young players and bring fans to the games. Players like Mike Keane, Nolan
Baumgartner, Matt Pettinger, Dallas Eakins and Wade Flaherty were proven NHLers
who would see their careers wind down in the AHL with the Moose.

The Moose franchise was also a launch pad
for many NHL coaches as well. Stanley Cup winner Randy Carlyle, Rangers head
coach Alain Vigneault and associate head coach Scott Arniel and former Jets
head coach Claude Noel all served as head coach for the Moose at some point in
their career.

So what I’m trying to say is I’m excited
the AHL is going back to Winnipeg, I think it’s great that the Jets will have
their available prospects right in their own city should a call-up be needed as
soon as possible, and I think it’s great for the fans. There are only 15,000
seats in the MTS Centre, not everyone is getting a chance to go and watch the Jets,
so why not go and cheer on their affiliate team.

It hasn’t been decided what the team name
is going to be at this point, but if it isn’t the Manitoba Moose, I may snap. I’m
sure I’m not the only one, don’t lie people.

The Moose were great for Winnipeg in the
2000s and they’re going to be great for the city again.

Even if it is only a temporary stay.