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Manitoba Moose face St. John's Maple Leafs


The return of NHL hockey to the city of Winnipeg will also mean a return of professional hockey to another Canadian city.

The imminent arrival of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg will force the city's American Hockey League franchise, the Manitoba Moose, to relocate to St. John's, Newfoundland, according to a report in the St. John's Telegram.

An official announcement regarding the return of AHL hockey to Mile One Centre is expected to be made next Friday.

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The Moose have denied the report.

"There is no agreement that would see the Moose move to St. John's," the team said on its Twitter account. "Reports of a press conference on Friday to announce such a move are false."

The Telegram reports that while the transaction has been ongoing for some time, it is contingent upon Winnipeg securing a NHL franchise.

The team will continue to be owned by True North Sports and Entertainment for at least the upcoming season while it looks for prospective local ownership. One name being mentioned is that of former Newfoundland premier Danny Williams.

The Moose will also revert to being the AHL farm team of the new Winnipeg NHL team, meaning the Vancouver Canucks will be forced to look for another AHL association for their farm squad.

The return of AHL hockey to Newfoundland comes six years after the Maple Leafs left St. John's. Ironically, the Maple Leafs final game was against the Moose on April 30, 2005.

Following the Maple Leafs departure from St. John's, the city secured a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League expansion team. The Fog Devils lasted just three seasons before the team were sold to a Quebec businessman, who relocated them to Montreal.

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There has been talk about pursuing a second QMJHL team and even an ECHL franchise.

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