Toronto’s Bid For AHL Team Very Slim

By Andrew Bourgeois

AHL NEWS

The Toronto Roadrunners sound extremely hopeful of one day joining the AHL, but the chances of that happening appear to be very slim.

The Roadrunners were scheduled to join the International Hockey League in 2002, but the IHL folded,with six other teams from the now-defunct league absorbed by the AHL. The Roadrunners say they will apply for an AHL expansion franchise this summer, but there may not be any room.

The AHL will have 27 teams next season and league president and CEO Dave Andrews hopes to see that number increase to 30 for 2002-03 with the activation and relocation of three mothballed franchises – the Louisville Panthers, who recently suspended operations; the Adirondack Red Wings (owned by Detroit); and P.E.I. Senators (owned by Ottawa). That would provide one affiliate for every NHL team. And since Andrews says the AHL will not have more member clubs than the 30-team NHL (which has no plans for expansion), it’s unlikely any application from the Roadrunners would get much support.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken a more than cool attitude to the possible presence of the Roadrunners in their backyard. St. John’s general manager Bill Watters, who is also the assistant to Leafs’ president Ken Dryden, says the NHL team has no interest in the future of the Roadrunners.

“The only thing we’ve said to them is that we have absolutely no interest in being their affiliate,” said Watters. “St. John’s is where our farm team is located and we’ve made it clear we’re very happy with that arrangement.”
It may be some time before the AHL is ready to announce its divisional alignments and schedule for the upcoming season. Andrews was ready to reveal both Monday, in conjunction with the announcement of the addition of the six former IHL teams. However, last-minute objections by some AHL teams mean the whole scheme could undergo significant reworking.
The original plan had St. John’s in a seven-team division with the Saint John Flames, Quebec Citadelles, Portland Pirates, Manchester Monarchs, Worcester IceCats and Lowell Lock Monsters. The Leafs are satisfied with that scheme, although new proposals from other teams could lead to changes.

AHL FASTFACTS

Seventeen members of the Hockey Hall of Fame have won the Calder Cup, including Terry Sawchuk, Emile Francis, Gerry Cheevers, Larry Robinson, Johnny Bower and Al Arbour.

TODAY IN HOCKEY

June 11, 1988 the Minnesota North Stars use the first overall pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft to select Mike Modano from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.