Today in the A, after the announcement yesterday of True North's acquisition of the Atlanta Thrashers, and the subsequently planned move to Winnipeg, what becomes of the Manitoba Moose? More importantly, how does the disposition of the Moose affect the Springfield Falcons?
Previously, I mentioned that AHL president David Andrews has a "Plan B" in the event of Winnipeg returning to the NHL. Now that Winnipeg is in, and Atlanta is out, "Plan B" becomes a strong likelihood for the league. They as much said so yesterday when a short time after True North's announcement, the AHL issued a statement wishing the True North team well in the NHL.
Currently, the AHL is set up nicely, with two 15 team conferences. The Eastern Conference, home of the Falcons, makes a reasonable amount of geographic sense. One speculative item however, has the Manitoba Moose relocating to St. John's, Newfoundland; a city that was formerly home to the Toronto Maple Leafs farm hands. Time is of the essence, and former premier, Danny Williams is now said to be "scrambling" to make leasing arrangements with Mile One Centre in St. John's.
Ultimately, this could have an affect on the Falcons in that St. John's would undoubtedly be a candidate to shift to the Atlantic Division in the extremely unbalanced scheduling of the AHL. The only caveat would be if St. John's were to come aboard this season, and the league was prepared to keep them in Mantoba's slot in the North Division of the Western Conference a la Winnipeg playing in the Southeast next season.
A likely scenario would have a St. John's club play in the Atlantic Division, increasing the number ot teams to eight. Then things would get interesting as an East Division team would likely be bumped to the Western Conference. The East Division is also well aligned geographically, and in that case, at least one geographic rivalry would be affected.
We'll have all the latest AHL team movements here as this story develops.