Tag: Manitoba Moose

Claude Noel, Chris Clark, Derek Brassard

Report: Winnipeg chooses Claude Noel as their new head coach


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

Craig Ramsay

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

Thrashers Future Hockey

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

Manitoba Moose

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.

Five Thoughts: Bruins domination in Game 3 and hopes for Winnipeg

Tim Thomas

Depending on your thoughts about how a 2-0 game goes down, chances are you might’ve been far more entertained by the other news of the day yesterday. While Tim Thomas was busy shutting out a seemingly listless Lightning team, reports indicate that the Thrashers are indeed headed off to Winnipeg. All that means right now is that we’ve got a lot to sound off on in our Five Thoughts this morning.

1. We knew going into Game 3 that it wouldn’t be the up-and-down madness of goals and high-tempo play that we saw in Game 2 between Boston and Tampa Bay, but even last night’s game came off as way more of a letdown considering. Thankfully, Tim Thomas was there to save us and the game with some of his patented ridiculous saves. Tampa Bay really pushed play in the first period including a flurry of shots that saw Thomas come up especially huge.

After two games that saw Thomas both get hung out to dry at points and struggle with the Lightning attack, they got a prototypical Bruins-style game out of everyone and shut things down hardcore. If the Bruins play more games like that, they’ll do very well the rest of the way.

2. I don’t like to be critical of players before they’ve really shown they don’t have what it takes to keep up with things in the NHL, but I’m casting my worried gaze towards Victor Hedman. David Krejci’s goal in the first period happened when Hedman went to go help Brett Clark in the corner to go after the puck, leaving Krejci all alone in front of the net to score.

While Guy Boucher’s system calls for players to rotate around to make sure no one’s left alone like that, that’s a situation where Hedman absolutely cannot leave his man to blindly stick to the system. While Dominic Moore and Steve Downie offered no help there as they were both caught up in chasing Nathan Horton, all it took was one quick decision by Hedman to get after Milan Lucic to make things fall apart in an instant.

If Hedman can’t stick by a forward in front of the net that’s a bad matchup to make a forward race down to get on him. While Hedman’s eaten up big minutes through the playoffs, he lacks a physical element to his game and his offensive numbers don’t pop. Hmm…

3. If the Lightning weren’t worried about Patrice Bergeron coming back, after seeing him in Game 3 they should know better. While Bergeron didn’t factor in the scoring, it’s everything else he can do to help give the Bruins an edge that makes him a difficult matchup for Tampa. With Bergeron and Krejci out there to take faceoffs, the Bruins were able to control play right off the bat 67% of the time. Bergeron won 64% of his draws while Krejci won an astounding 72% of his.

With Tampa Bay unable to win draws anywhere on the ice, getting their offense started or getting their defense a break just didn’t happen. Guys like Vincent Lecavalier, Dominic Moore, and Steve Stamkos had better get working on those draws during practice before Saturday afternoon’s Game 4 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

4. All right Winnipeg, it looks like you’re going to get an NHL team back. After all the hardship after the Jets moved to Phoenix, they’re being rewarded with the Thrashers as their situation in Atlanta appears ready to peter out without a local buyer to step in. Since this move seems all but done, let’s again reignite our stand about one thing: Call them the Jets.

I don’t care if it’s the Winnipeg Jets or the Manitoba Jets, but with the NHL apparently holding the rights to the Jets name, getting that name back and bringing back that name and the history of the team is the thing that makes most sense. There’s talk that True North wants to hang on to the Manitoba Moose name or may want to go with something else entirely different, but it was the memories and the history of the Jets going back to their days in the WHA that kept hope alive in the small Manitoba city of ever getting the NHL back. Now that it’s seemingly about to happen, here’s to hoping that Mark Chipman and David Thomson tell their ad wizards to stuff it and honor the city’s NHL past moving forward.

After all, which jerseys do you think are going to sell more once this is a done deal, Jets retro merchandise (which the NHL already sells a ton of) or whatever board room creation True North might come up with? There’s a reason why fans who gathered on the streets in Winnipeg last night after Stephen Brunt’s report of a deal being done started chanting “Go Jets Go” and it’s not because they were telling the Thrashers to hurry up and fly into town.

5. As for whether or not realignment happens this year or next, there doesn’t seem to be any good reason why it can’t happen this year. By all accounts the NHL prepared for this possibility by drawing up multiple schedules for next season factoring in whether or not the team would be in Atlanta or Winnipeg. According to Brunt, this is also a deal that the owners wrote off on depending on what the negotiated sale price was a few weeks ago.

Instead of having the Winnipeg team play a lame duck and horrible travel season in the Southeast Division and making everything harder for everyone in the Eastern Conference for a year, it just makes too much sense to have things prepared in advance and ready to roll since this was something the league knew might happen. It’s not as if the NHL doesn’t know who’s interested in coming to the Eastern Conference to take the Thrashers spot. Here’s to hoping the NHL did things the right way as opposed to their own way.