Well. That was something.
A flurry of hockey franchise swaps were announced yesterday involving four cities across two leagues, and when the dust was all settled Winnipeg ended up with another team and the tiny town of Belleville, Ontario was losing their junior team of over 30 years in a complete blindside.
The Winnipeg Jets are shifting their American Hockey League team, the St. John’s IceCaps (that’s it!) back to Winnipeg where they previously played as the Manitoba Moose until 2011. The name and logo still to be announced, although it’s the still same ownership group as when they were the Moose, I’d be stunned if that fantastic identity wasn’t brought back.
The Montreal Canadiens are filling the very recent void in St. Johns’s by moving their AHL club – the Hamilton Bulldogs – there. The team will use the St. John’s IceCaps name, a report today suggests the logo will stay the same as their days as a Jets affiliate but tweaked to use the Canadiens colour scheme of red, white, blue.
The Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls, who had been in negotiations for a new arena with the city, stunned their fans by announcing they were instead being sold to the owner of the soon-to-be-former Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. The Bulls will be relocating to Hamilton where they will simply use the old Bulldogs logo and colour scheme in 2015-16.
These three moves are in addition to the flurry of swaps between the AHL and ECHL which were announced earlier this year. This brings the total of AHL relocations to seven for the upcoming season, the ECHL will have three new teams, while the OHL will see two teams move around. All in all 16 markets are affected. Crazy.
Yes, this is confusing… so, let’s break it down into a graphical presentation. Hopefully this makes things easier for everyone.
First, let’s take a look at the AHL and how their teams will be moving around:
Plenty of wagons heading westward, six of the seven teams are moving closer to the Pacific Ocean. Only the Hamilton Bulldogs to St. John’s shift moves a team further east (and you can’t get any further east than St. John’s)
In the ECHL it’s a little less busy:
The three ECHL teams moving up to the AHL are all being replaced by three AHL markets moving to the ECHL. Straight swaps.
The OHL is seeing two relocations, if it wasn’t for the Bulls/Bulldogs stunner yesterday we’d likely not even include them in this series of graphics:
Don’t get excited, the new Flint team will not be known as the Whalers nor will they be using that logo. Although the team has registered Flint Tropics, so… that could be something.
While the above graphics are showing you the franchise relocations taking place, they’re not accounting for any new teams or affiliation changes, nor do they give you an easy look at what’s happening to each market which really is all any fan from those particular towns care about.
Here’s a breakdown of the changes per market showing who played where for whom in 2014-15 and what they’ll be doing in 2015-16 (you may want to click this one for a larger view)
Fine, let’s just do it like it’s a multi-team/multi-player trade announced on TSN or something:
Yup, Paul Coffey on the move again…