Musical chairs in AHL & OHL: Icecaps to Winnipeg, Bulldogs to St. John’s, Bulls to Hamilton

Since I’ve spent this week covering hockey, I thought I’d share some hockey news.  A major shakeup today took place in the ranks of minor league and junior hockey in Canada. The Winnipeg Jets are moving their AHL farm team out of St. John’s and into, of all places, Winnipeg which has an NHL team. (Rumor is it will again take on the name Manitoba Moose.) The Montreal Canadiens have signed on as the new parent club for the St. John’s IceCaps, moving out of Hamilton and spelling the end of the Bulldogs in the AHL. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs owner announces he’s purchased the Belleville Bulls and is moving them to Hamilton. 

The only winner in this whole situation is St. John’s, because now they’re a farm team for the Canadiens. If I were a hockey fan in Hamilton or Belleville right now I would be pretty choked. Hamilton is trading in an AHL pro hockey franchise for an OHL junior one, which sucks for those who liked watching the AHL there. 

But the biggest loser of all is Belleville. They’ve had a team in the OHL for something like 30-plus years but as of today, they are gone. Moreover, unlike the rumors about the future of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs which circulated for days, this Belleville move was a complete surprise: there was no warning, nothing. The sports guy at our paper lived in Belleville and says there is absolutely nothing left for people to do in Belleville now that the Bulls are gone, and they’ll realize what they lost soon enough. 

As for Winnipeg, I have no idea why they are putting an AHL team in there, because it’s clear to me they’d rather watch the NHL. Anyway, enough about that.