Jets AHL team leaving St. John’s for Thunder Bay

It looks like the Winnipeg Jets AHL farm team will be leaving St. John's, N.L., and moving to Thunder Bay, Ont., after a deal was announced to build a new $106-million ``event centre'' in the Lake Superior community. (Paul Daly/CP)

WINNIPEG — It looks like the Winnipeg Jets AHL farm team will be leaving St. John’s, N.L., and moving to Thunder Bay, Ont., after a deal was announced to build a new $106-million "event centre" in the Lake Superior community.

Former Newfoundland premier Danny Williams, president of the St. John’s IceCaps, told radio station VOCM in St. John’s on Tuesday he will be looking for another team to bring to the island.

"We will be actively seeking another affiliation and another franchise," he said.

Williams said it wasn’t a surprise but he learned of the decision only the night before. The franchise is owned by True North Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Winnipeg Jets.

The Thunder Bay group is headed by former NHL coach and broadcaster Gary Green.

The team had regular sellouts in St. John’s, although travel was often difficult for visiting teams.

Fans were disappointed at the decision, which will reportedly see the team leave at the end of next season.

"While I hope fans continue to support the team on the ice, this is going to kill merchandise sales and be a big problem for season ticket sales," Rod Zdebiak said on the team’s Facebook page.

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