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This year I have become a St. John’s Ice Caps fan.

Now a farm club for the Montreal Canadiens, the AHL club will be leaving town after this season – for a new arena in Laval, Quebec.

The move was not surprising, as the Canadiens positioned the IceCaps to be a temporary solution until the new arena in Laval–Place Bell –was ready for action. In doing so, the Canadiens are following the trend of other NHL teams by bringing their affiliate closer to their home operation.

But the imminent move puts the Ice Caps and its fans in a difficult situation. They are hoping that  the city can attract another team, be it in the AHL or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

IceCaps COO  Glenn Stanford says that, regardless, the IceCaps will do what they can to attract fans this season, but acknowledges the potential boost that could come from a new franchise being announced. More from The Telegram

As parto f that effort the Ice Caps will be paying homage to local hockey heritage. The club has introduced a third jersey. They are modelled after the sweaters worn by members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment hockey team about 100 years ago, with the caribou logo the most prominent feature. The actual military regiment is best known for its heavy involvement in the First World War’s Battle of the Somme.

On top of the caribou logo, this new St. John’s creation also pays tribute to the military with a shoulder crest featuring a soldier on top of two chevrons.

The Ice Caps  were originally affiliated with the second incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets  and the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2011 to 2015. However, beginning in the 2015–16 AHL season, they became the top affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens after the Jets relocated their franchises to be closer to Winnipeg and Toronto respectively and the Canadiens moved the former Hamilton Bulldogs franchise to St. John’s.

Everyone concerned confirms that St. John’s is a good hockey town.

John Scott, for example, related how welcoming the city and its fans were after the controversial trade that sent him from sunny Arizona to Newfoundland. Stu Cowan’s visit to St. John’s from Montreal last Spring captures just how special the Ice Caps were in town.

So, though we have never had the chance to visit ourselves, we find ourselves rooting for the Ice Caps and their fans this year.

Go Caps Go !

 

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