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John’s Maple Leafs played their last regular season home game against the Edmonton Roadrunners at Mile One Stadium. St. John’s won the game but the curtain closed on 14 years of the American Hockey League franchise in the capital city. The good news today is that the AHL is returning to the province. — Telegram file photo
Glenn Stanford to head up new St. John’s AHL club
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The arrival of the AHL club in St. John’s will make for a busy couple of months for Stanford, who will resign from his position as president and governor of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs to assume a similar title with the asyet-to-be-named St. John’s team. September will mark the first time since spring 2008 that Mile One will have an anchor tenant. After the Toronto Maple Leafs, under then-general manager John Ferguson, moved their farm team closer to the parent club and
Toronto’s Ricoh Centre, St. John’s landed a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League expansion franchise. But the Fog Devils lasted only three years before owner Derm Dobbin sold the franchise to Montreal businessman and lawyer Farrel Miller, where it became known as the Junior de Montreal. There was some discussion early in the new year about a return of the QMJHL to St. John’s, but a group looking to bring major junior hockey back to the city failed to secure a deal.
Until this week, the best hope for hockey at Mile One appeared to rest with the ECHL, an AAtiered league a notch below the AHL. The group had met with the ECHL’s board of governors, and league commissioner Brian McKenna was in St. John’s last month to visit the city and tour Mile One. Next month, the group was to travel to Las Vegas where its application into the league for the 201213 season was to be voted on by the board.
However, amid mounting speculation about the AHL’s return to St. John’s, the ECHL group withdrew its bid this week. The landscape of the AHL has certainly changed since 2004-05. Since then, the league has grow by two teams to 30, and has eight new franchises — Charlotte Checkers, Adirondack Phantoms, Lake Erie Monsters, Abbotsford Heat, Peoria Rivermen, Texas Stars, Oklahoma City Barons and Rockford IceHogs. The Moose played in the Western Conference’s North Division last season. There’s a chance St.
John’s could remain in the North, though a move to the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division seems more likely. However, that will not happen in time for next season, when St. John’s will be lumped in with divisional rivals Hamilton, Lake Erie (Cleveland), Abbotsford, B.C., Grand Rapids Griffins, Rochester Americans and the Marlies, which should make for a hot ticket.
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email email@example.com
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