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Jets moving AHL franchise from St. John's to Winnipeg to share MTS Centre

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Winnipeg hockey fans await return of AHL franchise with open arms
Jets brass won't reveal farm team's Winnipeg name yet

Winnipeg will soon be home to two professional hockey teams, and hockey fans at the MTS Iceplex Thursday night said they await the Jets farm team with open arms.

The Jets' American Hockey League affiliate, currently known as the St. John's IceCaps, will relocate from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Manitoba capital for the 2015-16 season.

It will mark the return of theAHL to Winnipeg, which had the Manitoba Moose until True North Sports and Entertainment purchased the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, moved the franchise north and renamed it the Jets.

The Moose moved to St. John's and were renamed the IceCaps. True North still owns the AHL team, which became the Jets' farm team.

Winnipeggers happy about AHL return

Brendan Arnold was happy to hear the news of the franchise’s return to Winnipeg.

"I think it's pretty cool to have the Moose back,” said Arnold, referring to the IceCaps. “It will be nice to have another team in Winnipeg."

Nick Doyle, who also fondly referred to the team by its old name, said he looks forward to watching to AHL hockey in person again.

"I like the Moose and it's fun hockey to watch,” said Doyle. “I went to about 10-15 games each year."

Dylan Stockl, who plays on the Winnipeg Warriors hockey team, said he thinks local sports fans always welcome more hockey.

“I think it's good for the city,” he said. “I think our fans will be happy to have them back."

Challenges, pros to having 2 pro teams

There could at first be certain logistical challenges facing the MTS Centre with two pro teams sharing the same ice, but Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said it will all work out in the long run.

"We're well equipped with the IcePlex facility being state of the art with respect to four ice sheets and the availability of practice time," said Cheveldayoff. "Utilizing the IcePlex with fuller capacity, we believe there's going to be a unique way that both teams' needs get served."

The Jets GM said the organization is investing in infrastructure renewals and renovations to both the IcePlex and MTS Centre to accommodate both teams, and to help ensure that the AHL has a future in Winnipeg.

"We're going to dig in and we're going to try and make this a home that lasts for a long time," said Cheveldayoff. "You're going to see some building going on that is going to cement the commitment for the short-term and hopefully for the long term."

Allan Dreger said he thinks both teams stand to benefit from being in the same city.

'The more hockey, the more entertainment for the city — what a wonderful thing.'

- Steve Gould

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Heard about this earlier today. Great news for Winnipeg hockey fans who can't get tickets to the Jets due to demand.

As an added bonus, fantastic to have prospects so close for management to see on a regular basis, allowing them call up quicker, and get prospects to become more familiar with the city a lot sooner, allowing them to build ties to the city at an earlier age.

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I know it was hard before, but now with AHL expanding west Canucks should move theirs to northwest too.

I'm not sure how geography works in your head, but Winnipeg is nowhere near the Northwest. And the teams that moved to the West are all in California so there is no 'North'. Or are you aware of some other team in the AHL in the Northwest?

But for Winnipeg, I wonder if the fanbase will be strong enough long term. Just thinking demand-wise, with two major hockey teams in town and the population that is available to support them.

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I came in to say good for them, and Canucks fans shouldn't bother getting any silly ideas about our farm team moving out to BC any time soon. Looks like I was too late.

Leave successful Utica alone.

About the Moose, True North owns the name so I see no reason why they wouldn't re-use it. Instant cache, not that they would need it, but from a marketing perspective it never hurts.

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