With the possibility of the Phoenix Coyotes moving back to Winnipeg next season, the Vancouver Canucks are keeping a close eye on how events unfold.
The Canucks face the possibility of having to re-locate its American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, if the Coyotes do return to Winnipeg.
David Andrews, president of the American Hockey League, told CKWX radio in Vancouver that his league is monitoring the situation in Phoenix and has been for the last two years.
“We are preparing for the possibility that Phoenix could end up in Winnipeg,” Andrews said. “We have contingency plans relative to our own divisional and conference alignments and schedule.”
The AHL hopes to find out quickly if the Coyotes are Winnipeg-bound because of the logistics in moving a franchise.
“The middle of May is kind of the drop-dead date for us in terms of preparations for the following year,” Andrews added. “We do have a couple of strong possibilities, couple of markets that really are interested in having an AHL franchise, so the potential is there to activate Manitoba’s AHL club somewhere else if need be.”
Should there not be enough time to move the Moose to another city in time for next season, the league could suspend the Moose franchise for a year and put the Moose players somewhere else.
Andrews said he is working with the Canucks on what their options may be.
Earlier this week, sources told Sportsnet that a deal to sell the Coyotes to businessman Matthew Hulsizer is all but dead and that the NHL could be ready to announce a move back to Winnipeg once the club is eliminated from the playoffs.