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Update - Official: Habs to move AHL affiliate to St. John's


dlbalr
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A surprise report this morning, apparently the Bulldogs are heading to St. John's next season where they will stay until the new arena in Laval is ready. I'm not a big fan of St. John's, it's really hard to shuttle players in and out of there, the logistics are a lot tougher than where they are now. I'd prefer they stay in Hamilton personally.

http://www.thetelegram.com/Sports/2015-03-07/article-4068814/Canadiens-minor-league-moving-to-St.-Johns%2C-Jets-bringing-AHL-club-back-to-Winnipeg%3A-report/1

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I may be the only one who really cares about this because I'm from Newfoundland, but I'm pumped about this. Being able to see the prospects regularly will be awesome.

Anyone hear if the team would remain the icecaps?

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Bluntly, don't feel strong one way or other and I assume if they choose to do so, that it is for a good reason or two.

I would guess would fill the rink moreso in Newfoundland wont they?

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I may be the only one who really cares about this because I'm from Newfoundland, but I'm pumped about this. Being able to see the prospects regularly will be awesome.

Anyone hear if the team would remain the icecaps?

This report just came out this morning so there's no info on a possible team name yet. Apparently the governors meet this week so if this is true, we may know more then.

Bluntly, don't feel strong one way or other and I assume if they choose to do so, that it is for a good reason or two.

I would guess would fill the rink moreso in Newfoundland wont they?

They'll draw much better out there for sure. However, teams who play there don't stay long due to the difficulties associated with recalling players (often requiring a full days notice in advance). I'm wondering if there's something brewing in Hamilton with regards to another team coming in and booting them out. I can't see Montreal doing this voluntarily, especially with the Bulldogs owner being part-owner of the Habs.

I agree that the travel could be an issue. Would there be any divisional changes?

There seem to be divisional changes every year. With the big move announced a month or so ago (the new West Division), there already is going to be changes.

Edit: Hamilton's official statement doesn't exactly scream denial here... http://hamiltonbulldogs.com/pressbox/news/?article_id=1119

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This move may work if somehow SL exits somewhere over the ST. Lawerence.

If only...I don't see that happening though unless they really bottom out these next few weeks.

Here's a map of the teams at things stand for next year (including the new West Division). Boy, is St. John's on its own...

From what I've read, there are quite a few other affiliations in flux for next season. The league is going to look a lot different next year, that's for sure.

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as a fan, it's out of our control, so not much we could do about it. Maybe the average of 4077 fans would look better in a 5000 seat arena but I will admit that that figure has been skewed favourably by the sold out school kids game and near capacity Marlie games.

-some folks knock the arena but honestly, it's a palace compared to Rochester, Utica, Syracuse and a host of other AHL barns. Even the Ricoh still smells of horse shit because of the Toronto Police stables that are adjacent

-folks complaining re the walkup of $26.00. In comparison, ECHL Brampton has a best seat walkup of $35.00. OHL Niagara is $25.00. Just seems to be a mentality in the area, that folks don't go if they can't get things cheap

-if the team moves to Nfld for two seasons. the only people making money will be Air Canada

-not sure how Winnipeg figure having their AHL team in same barn will work. There will be a lot of odd mid week games in deference to the big club. Ask Edmonton how that worked out.

-will fans in Montreal support the AHL product in a 10,000 seat arena? Will be interesting to see.

-the hate for all things Toronto like in the CFL, just never developed in the Hamilton area for hockey. I guess the blue and white was too well entrenched in the area (although there are some fans in the area who still favour Detroit because of the old Jr A connection.)

-the Toronto centric media sure didn't help.

-Core Media were an odd marketing bunch. Cheap beer night brought out the thugs which just increased their security costs. Either seemed to be too many ushers or never enough to control the drunks. They didn't do much to develop loyalty with the season ticket holders

-The Dogs Charity-good that it provided a breakfast program for so many kids in Hamilton but was it the responsibility of a hockey club to be doing what a school board or city welfare dept should be doing. I guess that is one way to get on the good side of the community (to quote Sally Field-"you like me, you really like me"). They did odd things too like raise the price of 50/50 tickets 150% and having three special jerseys for the fans to bid on in a month was crazy-total of five this season! Embarassing that the $5.00 souvenir program was still issue 1 last night.

-local merchants-totally unaware a game was on-most game nights the Food Court at Jackson Square closed at 6pm. Parking lots raised their prices from $5.00 to $10.00. The adjacent mall attracted a lot of mentally ill people and scooter people but we see that now in most downtowns since the Provincial Government closed so many institutions in the 80's! I think that it freaks out folks from suburbia.

-food choice in the arena was expensive (i.e. two poutine and two pepsi=$25.00) and the friggin water fountains were removed about 8 years ago and never replaced.

-Sorry is I'm rambling-likely the cold medication. Been attending since Jan of the first season and I hope the city realizes how much revenue even 4000 folks per evening bring downtown per season. Much more than the phoney Juno stats they're giving out now

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ps-re attendance. As of today Hamilton averaged 4069 fans with 8 teams well below them in attendance. Almighty Toronto averaged 5335 fans in a city 6 times the size of Hamilton. The league average is 5406

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ps-re attendance. As of today Hamilton averaged 4069 fans with 8 teams well below them in attendance. Almighty Toronto averaged 5335 fans in a city 6 times the size of Hamilton. The league average is 5406

Marlies could be averaging 800 fans and it would hardly matter. Marlies aren't there to make money. They are there to keep the AHL team close to the NHL team. Montreal moving Hamilton (eventually) to Laval would be for a similar purpose. It's not about draw but what's best for the NHL club.

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ps-re attendance. As of today Hamilton averaged 4069 fans with 8 teams well below them in attendance. Almighty Toronto averaged 5335 fans in a city 6 times the size of Hamilton. The league average is 5406

As you noted though, the home games vs Toronto and the day games greatly skew those numbers. On a typical night, they're getting probably closer to 3,500 at best. It wasn't that long ago I saw an attendance of under 2,000.

I don't think the Habs are moving out of Hamilton because of attendance though. As I mused last night in my column, it seems likely that they're getting pushed out. There is speculation today that an OHL team is heading to Hamilton in the very near future.

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after having triple AAA Pro for 20+ years (including the forgotten two year period of the Hamilton Canucks), I'm not sure if the fans would take to major junior again. Hamilton lost three jr teams right? (Fincups, Dukes and one more I believe due to non support). The area Jr B and Tier 2 Jr A clubs draw flies currently-similarly Senior AAA.

Maybe the area has become so brain washed into Blue and White, nothing else connects. Local media in Hamilton, rather than covering local sports, trys to unsuccessfully imitate TSN. Kudos to Channel 13 in Kitchener for covering the Jr. leagues with gusto.

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And now it's official. On top of the team moving, the Habs have purchased control of the Bulldogs franchise outright effective at the end of the season, meaning that Andlauer won't have any affiliation with the new team in St. John's (which will be called the IceCaps). Andlauer, meanwhile, will be buying the Bulls and moving them to Hamilton...at least their last name won't change much.

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We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later.....

Yep. I figured it was going to be when the Laval arena was ready. However, it looks like Andlauer was proactive in getting a replacement tenant which pushed the Habs out the door a couple of years early.

By the way, good to hear from you. Long time no see...

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No. I have to admit that I got a bit excited when Joey McDonald was acquired, considering I saw him many times when he would come in with Grand Rapids, but didn't get the chance to attend...and seeing how he has underperformed this season, it's disappointing.....

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No. I have to admit that I got a bit excited when Joey McDonald was acquired, considering I saw him many times when he would come in with Grand Rapids, but didn't get the chance to attend...and seeing how he has underperformed this season, it's disappointing.....

He more or less has lived up to my expectations. He's a placeholder at this stage of his career, not a legitimate #1 guy. His stats line up well with those of a placeholder, a decent-to-mediocre backup goalie. The good news is that Condon has kept them competitive most nights.

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I guess we might expect the Moose name to be used for the AHL Winnipeg franchise. Do you guys think Manitobans are so hockey crazy to support two teams out of the MTS Centre? The Moose will get the less than desirable dates for sure. It didn't work in Edmonton. I wonder too if there will be much support in Nfld knowing the team will in effect be a lame duck for two seasons. Regardless of what magic Glen Sanford figures he can do there, I think he must be counting on his shares in Air Canada appreciating. You can fill up the rink in St. Johns for every event but travel costs will negate profitability every time. IMO but I figure what buggered things up overall was the Jets decision to bring their AHL farm club home. A lot of folks thought that when Mtl started up the new team in Laval, Hamilton would be getting the Jet's farm club.

I talked to my wife re renewing our Dogs tickets for next season and after being regulars since Jan of the first season have both decided against it. (They have mentioned the OHL product in Hamilton will not be cheaper than the current AHL prices.) There seems to be this feeling in the Hammer amongst fans that they'll be able to get cheap tickets for the OHL but that was the OHL of 30 years ago. Next season, we will likely watch St. Johns when they play in Toronto, with more ECHL Brampton games and the occasional Jr A/Jr B game too.

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ps good to hear from Ian (Lammy). Nice to know he is still vertical.

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I guess we might expect the Moose name to be used for the AHL Winnipeg franchise. Do you guys think Manitobans are so hockey crazy to support two teams out of the MTS Centre? The Moose will get the less than desirable dates for sure. It didn't work in Edmonton. I wonder too if there will be much support in Nfld knowing the team will in effect be a lame duck for two seasons. Regardless of what magic Glen Sanford figures he can do there, I think he must be counting on his shares in Air Canada appreciating. You can fill up the rink in St. Johns for every event but travel costs will negate profitability every time. IMO but I figure what buggered things up overall was the Jets decision to bring their AHL farm club home. A lot of folks thought that when Mtl started up the new team in Laval, Hamilton would be getting the Jet's farm club.

Short-term, I think two teams out of MTS can work. There is a long waiting list for Jets season tickets so some of those fans may take an interest in the next best thing. They may get creative and do some day-night doubleheaders as well. They won't fill the place but I could see them drawing 5,000 per game which would keep them viable. Long-term, I think they're still eyeing Thunder Bay but they haven't broken ground on that new arena yet.

I expect St. John's to sell out every game based on what I've read so far. They already do so or come close most nights and that's with Winnipeg's team in a situation similar to Montreal's - leaving at a set time period. (One way or the other, they were gone after next year.) They also have season ticket holders on three year contracts which helps. With the market being more Montreal-friendly, I think they'll sell the rest of the tickets somewhat easily.

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