Are Habs Expecting to Stay in St. John’s?


The Montreal Canadiens will be moving their American Hockey League affiliate to St. John’s next season. Their current team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, will become an OHL junior team. However, now there is talk that the Habs might not stay with the St. John’s IceCaps as their minor league team for long.

Kevin Gilmore, an executive with the Canadiens, had an interview with the St. John’s Morning Show on Thursday morning where he spoke about the deal between the Habs and the IceCaps. He said that the team could actually be in St. John’s longer than was expected.

Initially, the Habs are supposed to be in St. John’s for two years, but it might take even longer depending on if an arena in Quebec is built that they are hoping for.

The Canadiens want to have their team even closer by in Laval, Quebec. The arena that has been proposed would have 10,000 seats.

“The building in Laval is just starting construction. We don’t know what the timing will look like over the next two to three years,” said Gilmore to the show.

The expectation, which was also discussed by Gilmore, is that the IceCaps will have one of the better fanbases in the AHL even though they already have been a top team. St. John’s averages over 6,000 fans per game and having a team like the Canadiens involved can only help increase even that.

“We’ve got a two-year agreement to bring our team there. What’s really attractive to us is both the City of St. John’s, which we feel is a great environment for young players that are just entering their pro career and also depth players that come up and down, we feel it’s a great city. We also feel the fan support is tremendous.” said Gilmore.

If the Canadiens were to stay in St. John’s, it’s not a bad area for them to take advantage of a fanbase in eastern Canada. They have no idea if Laval is going to work or not as a market, but in reality it should with Habs fans all over the province of Quebec.

However, St. John’s long term is not a bad backup plan at all. With the Winnipeg Jets as the parent club the team drew well, so the Canadiens should even more so.

In fact it was even discussed that the Canadiens could play a pre season game in St. John’s for the 2016-2017 season, so the seeds are planted for a longer relationship.

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