AHL Affiliate to Relocate to Laval for 2017-18 Season

Laval

Photo: LaPresse.ca / IMAGE FOURNIE PAR LA VILLE DE LAVAL

Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens have announced in a press conference earlier today that the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the organization will play one final year in St. John’s, Newfoundland before relocating closer to home in Laval.

A piece of the Habs organization in St. John’s is short lived – but not a surprise. When moving the former Hamilton Bulldogs to the Mile One Centre in Newfoundland, it was understood that it would be a temporary home.

With the construction of Place Bell in Laval, Quebec only being a 20 minute drive from the Bell Centre (via Google Maps), this move only makes sense. This will be especially evident when recalls are made and when players are sent down.

This will be the first time that a Canadiens’ AHL affiliate will call the province of Quebec its home since 2002 – when the Quebec Citadelles merged with the co-owned Hamilton Bulldogs.

St. John’s had an American Hockey League team under the same name – IceCaps, from 2011-2015 with the Winnipeg Jets organization before they were relocated closer to home under the Manitoba Moose name. Immediately after, the Canadiens relocated the Hamilton Bulldogs to St. John’s for a temporary move during the duration of the construction of Place Bell.

Place Bell is a multi-purpose facility which will feature a standard NHL rink with a seated capacity of 10,000 to go along with a community rink as well as an Olympic size ice surface. The estimated cost of the facility is $120 million.

A few quotes from the presser on Monday morning:

The relocation of our AHL affiliate in Laval will be beneficial in several ways, allowing for hockey management to follow the organization’s young prospects and provide players and coaching staff with a great environment, a state-of-the-art hockey venue and a new and enthusiastic fan base. Until the team relocates to Laval, the coaching staff under head coach Sylvain Lefebvre will continue their work of developing our young players and getting them prepared for the next level. I take this opportunity to thank all IceCaps fans for their loyal support, and I am convinced that Laval hockey fans will stand behind their new team. – Marc Bergevin

Laval is an amazing city for the implementation of a hockey team and a venue where sports and culture will co-exist on a daily basis. We are honoured and excited at the thought of being involved in showcasing the city of Laval. An outstanding partner, Bell has been supportive of the project from the start and will play an active role in the community. A world leader in telecommunications, it will offer a wide range of innovative platforms suited for the highest standards in the sports industry, and the world of entertainment and advanced communications. – Geoff Molson

I am very pleased to welcome the Montreal Canadiens’ affiliate team to Laval. I am certain that every Laval resident will soon develop a tight bond with their new team. We look forward to working together and moving forward with the evolution and success of this team. The arrival of this exciting professional sports entity will not only bring in major economic returns, but it will also introduce an element of identity for our city. This team will bring a sense of social cohesion and pride for our community. – Laval Mayor Marc Demers

Habs move affiliate to Laval for 2017-18 (Photo: Canadiens)

Habs move affiliate to Laval for 2017-18 (Photo: Canadiens)

As for the new team name for the affiliate coming to Laval? Fans will have the opportunity to take part in a contest to help decide on what to name the club. The contest will be divided into three stages with the first stage beginning on July 11th to the 22nd. You can enter your submission at www.placebell.ca and it will be judged based on “creativity, originality and tie-ins with the city of Laval and/or the Montreal Canadiens.”

Phase II will go from July 26th to August 8th where fans can vote on their favourite entries and then Phase III will be from August 15th until the 31st, where the 3 finalists will be voted upon and the winner will be selected in the fall. The winning entry will receive season tickets and a second pair of tickets will be randomly selected among all of those who participated in the second and third phases.

This is a fun idea to get fans excited about the move and get them involved. We have seen this done in the past a number of times by other organizations and across different sports as well.

For St. John’s, we hope that they do get another team in the city as they have been a fantastic host for the prospects over their short stay. It’s a great city and they have great fans who are more than deserving of a team.

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