Getty Images

Winnipeg Jets prospect scores incredible goal in the AHL

3 Comments

There are so many great highlights from the National Hockey League that, often, the ones from its American Hockey League cousin don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

Not today.

Nic Petan, a Winnipeg Jets prospect who’s spent some time in the NHL over the past few seasons, made quite the dandy play in the game between the Jets’ minor league affiliate Manitoba Moose and the Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild) in Winnipeg on Saturday.

As you will see in the video below, Petan, 22, appears to not have a snowball’s chance in hell to make a play on centering pass after he’s hauled to the ice by a Wild defenseman.

Not so fast, however.

Petan manages to get his stick out in front of him as he’s sliding along the ice and re-directs Buddy Robinson’s (what a great name) pass up and over the Wild’s netminder.

You can only explain such beauty so much. Take a look:

We’re 13 days into 2018 and we already have what could be the re-direction of the year in pro hockey.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Winnipeg chooses Claude Noel as their new head coach

5 Comments

The hockey world still doesn’t know what the new Winnipeg team will be called, but they’re getting just about every other base covered. True North Sports and Entertainment reached the 13,000 season tickets sold mark in a blink of an eye, named Kevin Cheveldayoff their new general manager and reportedly chose Claude Noel as their new head coach today.

Noel should be familiar to Winnipeg hockey fans after spending one season as the head coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. He also spent four seasons as the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals and was an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets for three years. Noel had a brief stint as interim head coach of the Blue Jackets, coaching 24 games after Ken Hitchcock was fired in 2010.

It could be a challenging first year for Noel and the Winnipeg Whatevers. They’ll remain in the Southeast Division this season, likely putting a great amount of strain on the team during road trips. The former Atlanta Thrashers roster was in a transition, too, so it’s not as if he will enjoy an overwhelming amount of talent. (Unless, of course, Cheveldayoff re-makes the team with some star free agents.)

There are some rumors that the team name might finally be revealed during draft weekend, so stay tuned for that news and more.

Winnipeg fallout: Thrashers staffers face uncertain future, Manitoba Moose move

While the new Winnipeg team remains without a name, the faces of the franchise are coming into focus. It doesn’t look like many of those faces will be ones that were associated with the Atlanta Thrashers franchise, either.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that key members of the coaching staff (such as head coach Craig Ramsay) remain in holding patterns regarding their future with Winnipeg. It’s hard not to wonder if Ramsay and others* will need to find new jobs once newly selected GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and the True North brass make a decision about their staff.

* – Vivlamore mentions associate coach John Torchetti, assistant coach Mike Strothers and video coach Tony Borgford as other coaches who are awaiting word from True North.

The trend of hiring “their guys” continued today as Vivalmore reports that trainers and other behind-the-scenes staffers from the Thrashers days were let go. In some cases, those employees were replaced by Manitoba Moose workers (True North also owns the Moose).

Several members of the Thrashers support staff have already been told they will not have positions with the Winnipeg franchise – including the equipment managers, athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coach. None were considered for positions despite their tenure with the Thrashers. Head equipment manager Bobby Stewart spent 12 years with the Thrashers and 26 years with the Flames organization in Atlanta and Calgary.

The Thrashers staff was informed of Winnipeg’s decision on Monday by Craig Heisinger, who was named Winnipeg’s senior vice president and assistant general manager. Heisinger was in Atlanta Monday, two days before being named to his new position, to inventory equipment and other physical assets of the sale.

Some might scowl at the decisions, but it’s important to note that True North didn’t hire the people associated with the Thrashers franchise. It’s reasonable to want to “buy your own groceries” so to speak, but Ramsay rightly hopes that they make their choices soon. Delaying those decisions will only make it tougher for spurned staffers to find work in the NHL, AHL or some other part of the hockey world and therefore make True North seem a tad bit cruel.

Should Winnipeg keep Ramsay?

Ramsay seems like the type of coach Winnipeg could use: a guy who is known for being a good “teacher” for young talent. With a roster full of youth and short on experience, it seems logical to keep him around. Then again, I thought it would be logical to keep Rick Dudley around as the general manager, but True North decided to can him for Cheveldayoff.

Moose on the move

Speaking of the Moose, TSN reports that the AHL approved the relocation of the team from Winnipeg to St. John’s, N.L. (Newfoundland and Labrador). The Thrashers relocation forced the move, but to little surprise, the Moose will be Winnipeg’s affiliate team in 2011-12.

Maybe one of these days those minor leaguers will even know what team they hope to play for?

Winnipeg’s “Drive to 13” off to a huge start

4 Comments

When True North made their announcement that they were going to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and move the team to Winnipeg, they made it clear that they had another task to complete. True North shifted their focus to having the fans in Winnipeg and around Manitoba, Canada step up and show the NHL that they’re serious about having the team come to Winnipeg and be successful there.

True North started their “Drive To 13” campaign in which they want to sell 13,000 season tickets by June 21 when the NHL Board of Governors will meet and vote whether to approve the sale and relocation of the franchise. In True North’s mind, and perhaps the NHL’s as well, selling 13,000 season tickets in just a matter of three weeks is a good way to prove they’re serious about bringing a team back.

So far it appears that they’re very serious about buying tickets as well.

By late afternoon Thursday, True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., announced 4,170 season tickets were sold, which is almost equal to the 4,500 season tickets for the departing Manitoba Moose. All season tickets come with a commitment from the buyer from three to five years.

This is significant because the first three days of the online campaign are only open to groups of subscribers to the Moose, the American Hockey League team that is being moved to St. John’s.

That’s a pretty healthy percentage of people who are eligible to buy the tickets early taking advantage of the early sale. With the general season ticket sales opening up to the rest of Winnipeg and ticket buyers around, it’s hard to imagine that the team will run into any problems at all meeting the goal of 13,000. With just 8,830 tickets left to go, you’d have to imagine that with sales being opened up to the rest of the public things will go over rather smoothly.

MTS Centre in Winnipeg holds just over 15,000 fans so getting a commitment of 13,000 like that right up front is huge. Should all those tickets get bought up that guarantees having 87% of the building filled (or at least paid for) no matter what for at least the next three seasons. For what it’s worth, an 87% filled building would put Winnipeg 22nd in the NHL for capacity percentage this year. With up to 2,000 walk up tickets available each game that number isn’t too inspiring, but considering that season ticket sales won’t be stopped once they hit 13,000 we’ve got a good feeling about how things will shake out in Winnipeg attendance-wise in the meantime.

It’s a situation worth monitoring until they hit their target number, but we’ve got a feeling this watch on the “Drive To 13” won’t last all that long. The fans in Winnipeg have been hoping for a return of the NHL for the last 15 years and they’re not about to let it slip away now.

Another sign for Atlanta relocation? Manitoba AHL team set to move to St. John’s, Newfoundland

While the reports and rumors about the imminent move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba continue to burn there’s the whole matter of figuring out what to do with the Vancouver Canucks AHL affiliate that currently calls Winnipeg home. The Manitoba Moose currently hold down a spot at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and if the Thrashers are going to relocate to the Canadian prairie city, the Moose will need to be set loose.

According to a report in The Telegram out of Newfoundland, the Moose will indeed have a new home should the deal with the Thrashers get done.

Robin Short of The Telegram tells us that an old AHL haunt will once again be home to minor league hockey in extreme eastern Canada.

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.

If you’ve never checked out a map of Canada, St. John’s is way out there northeast of Maine. Considering that the team could very well continue to be the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, that would make for one long haul to send guys up and down to the minor leagues. It’s about 4,000 miles between the two cities (depending how much faith you put into directions on Google Maps that is) and that could make things really awkward for the Canucks.

Luckily for them, there’s always a revolving door of affiliates each year in the AHL and it’s possible the Canucks could look to attach themselves with either the Chicago Wolves or Portland Pirates. Of course, this move is all contingent upon the deal with the Thrashers and True North getting done and having the team move to Winnipeg. Should that find a way to fall apart in the end, it’s possible the Moose just stay where they’re at. That possibility seems unlikely with the imminent sale of the Thrashers possibly concluding next week.

True North Sports and Entertainment who is looking to buy the Thrashers also own the AHL Moose. Should the deal to move them to St. John’s get done, they will then be selling the AHL team to local interests in Newfoundland thus making it a great deal for local interests there. All they’re waiting for now is the one big domino to fall in all this.