The destination for the Manitoba Moose is set to be Newfoundland, although a spokesman for the team owners played down a report a tentative deal was reached to put the team in St. John's.
The St. John's Telegram reported True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which bought the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and is moving them to Winnipeg, has a tentative agreement with former Newfoundland premier Danny Williams, who will become the local owner. The report said Williams is working on a lease for the Moose at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.
When the return of the NHL to Winnipeg was announced on Tuesday, True North chairman Mark Chipman said he hoped to find a partner in a new city to operate the Moose, which will serve as Winnipeg's American Hockey League team.
Chipman said Wednesday he hoped to have the Moose's situation settled in "about a week" but he also indicated St. John's is the preferred destination. The city lost its AHL team, which was the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, after the 2004-05 season, a few years after the Mile One Centre was built.
Chipman admitted St. John's is a long way from the nearest AHL city, which is Portland, Me., but thinks the Moose will be a success.
"It's isolated, there's no doubt about that," he said. "But it's such a good market in a lot of other respects. It's had a long history of supporting the American Hockey League."