Welcome Back, Manitoba Moose

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After much speculation, the word finally came that the Winnpeg Jets, who are moving their AHL team from St. John’s to Winnipeg, will revitalize the Manitoba Moose. That news was released in the press conference today. The logo is that of the old incarnation of the Moose, but will be in the double-blue that the Jets have, with the jersey being the Jets template and the Moose logo.

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“We wouldn’t be in the NHL today if not for the 15 years that the Manitoba Moose had in the AHL,” said Mark Chipman, CEO of True North Sports and Entertainment. “We’re bringing the players we’re developing closer to the fans. We’re going to be building the development closer to (the Jets), which is what the AHL is all about.”

That history started in the IHL, where the Moose moved from Minnesota to Manitoba after a year. It’s a place where Randy Carlyle started off as a coach and moved the Moose to four IHL Playoff appearances before they merged into the AHL with a couple other IHL teams. From the 2001-02 season until their departure in the 2010-11 season, the Moose only missed the playoff once, they went to the Calder Cup Finals (but lost) in 2009, as well as moving past the first round in six of the nine appearances.

“We took a long look at a number of markets. When looking, we knew that Winnipeg was the best place for this,” said Dan Hirsch, who will oversee the business side of the Moose operations. “It will provide increased access to professional hockey for Manitobans.”

As of this writing, Hirsch did not go into detail about what markets were being looked at outside of Winnipeg, but it will be updated below if anything comes out.

Obviously the question of how long the Moose will be in Winnipeg is always up for debate. You can be assured that there will probably be a couple of conflicts when it comes to use of the MTS Centre and what dates will go to whom. That’s even something that the Moose addressed on their FAQ’s page, where it states:

Our goal is for the Manitoba Moose to stay in Winnipeg for the long term. This team represents our future; the players will live and work in Winnipeg and will take a role in our community. The long term viability of the franchise in this marketplace will be determined through a number of factors, not the least of which will include strong support from our community.

Therefore, it’s pretty crucial for people to go ahead and buy tickets, which is what the team also laid out in the press conference, much to my and many other’s chagrin. That said, it’s obvious very crucial for the Moose to be a success, especially since the MTS Centre will undoubtedly be losing concert and event dates due to housing two teams in that arena and making sure that it will fit at least 79 dates (41 for NHL, 38 for AHL, not including playoffs).

It’s a great thing for the Moose to be back, but it’ll be even better if it is a successful venture and one that the fans will come out and get themselves a little more exposure to the Jets’ prospects. Plus, you would have to think that the Jets will do what the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda are doing and look at the options of double-headers to give the fans the most bang for the buck.

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