It’s now official: the top Canadiens farm team will be moving from St. John’s to Quebec, as the American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has approved the move of the Montreal-owned AHL team to Place Bell in Laval for the 2017-2018 season.
The move is not a surprise: when the Hamilton Bulldogs were shifted to Newfoundland to play as the St. John’s IceCaps, the move was positioned as a two-year deal while the new Laval arena was constructed.
The move was made for one big reason: proximity. In the end, St. John’s is just too far away to be a workable long-term partner for the Habs. Laval, on the other hand, will be close.
“We are very proud to be here to announce that a professional hockey team from the American Hockey League will be playing in Laval starting in 2017,” said Canadiens president and CEO Geoff Molson at a press conference today to announce the move, joined by general manager Marc Bergevin, Laval mayor Marc Demers, and Place Bell president Vincent Lucier. “The Place Bell is an incredible place that will light up the city of Laval. We’ve been working on this project for a long time. Now, we can finally focus on our first hockey game along with the other events that will be held there, too.”
For Bergevin, the issue is simpler: players will be closer.
“It will be really good in terms of supporting our young players. We’ll be right nearby. It will also give me the option to maybe keep a roster of just 22 players, instead of 23, depending on the waiver situation. I’ve talked to other NHL GMs who have AHL clubs close by. It’s really something that can help the organization,” Bergevin said. “There are just two flights per day to St. John’s. Here, in 30 minutes, the player is in Brossard. When I heard that this was a possibility [of the team moving to Laval], I was very happy.”
The Montreal Canadiens are running a name the team contest. To enter a submission, go to placebell.ca.