Former IHL Teams to Compete in Same Division

By Andrew Bourgeois
The inclusion of the Manitoba Moose into the American Hockey League brings the league’s Canadian content to five teams, but don’t expect the Winnipeg-based team to join the Canadian Division.

The division which once included the Calder Cup champion Saint John Flames, St. John’s Maple Leafs, Quebec Citadelles and Hamilton Bulldogs might be scrapped entirely.
AHL president Dave Andrews had hoped to announce the divisional makeup and tentative schedule for next season, but last-minute differences over the proposed scheme has necessitated more talks.

It is expected, however, the former IHL teams will form their own division.

The Flames, Leafs and Citadelles are reportedly set to join a division with a number of New England teams, possibly Portland, Manchester, Worcester and Lowell, with the Bulldogs bound for another grouping. The Leafs’ schedule is dominated with 12 games each against the other Canadian-based teams, a trend that will continue next season. But while St. John’s won’t likely meet Utah, Chicago, Houston, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee, the Leafs will play the Moose at least four times.

Just as there was back in 1991 when St. John’s joined the AHL, some concern was expressed about travelling to far-off cities like Winnipeg, Houston and Salt Lake City.
However, the league has established a travel equalization fund, cost-shared equally among all clubs to the tune of about $15,000 each.

That’s good news for the Leafs, who had been paying about $65,000 per season in travel subsidies.

“If we find ourselves going to those areas,” Leafs’ vice-president of hockey operations Glenn Stanford said of the new cities, “we will take part in that plan.
“But in our minds, it’s more important that it helps bring teams here at less cost to us.”

The addition of another Canadian city is also welcomed in some corners.

“I think this is great for Canadian hockey,” said Edmonton Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson, who is also the Bulldogs’ GM. “I’m really excited about having Winnipeg in and playing them.

“We like it in Canada. We like Winnipeg. We like the geography and we want to stay in Canada. That’s important.”
The addition of Winnipeg gives the AHL four cities which once had NHL teams – Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers and Cleveland Barons.

Cleveland rejoins the league after the San Jose Sharks transferred the Kentucky Thoroughblades to the Ohio city.


AHL FASTFACTS

Only one team has been able to win the Calder Cup in three consecutive years. The Springfield Indians, under the leadership of Eddie Shore and Jack Butterfield, skated to Calder Cup Championships in 1960, 1961 and 1962.


TODAY IN HOCKEY

June 16, 1978 the Minnesota North Stars use the first overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft and make Bobby Smith the number 1 pick.