The Manitoba Moose are a Canadian professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, that plays in the American Hockey League (AHL). The team plays its home games at Bell MTS Place, the home arena of its parent club, the National Hockey League's Winnipeg Jets.
|League||American Hockey League|
|Founded||1994 (In the IHL)|
|Home arena||Bell MTS Place|
|Colours||Polar Night blue, aviator blue, silver, white|
|Owner(s)||True North Sports & Entertainment|
|General manager||Craig Heisinger|
|Head coach||Pascal Vincent|
TSN Radio (1290 AM)
|Affiliates||Winnipeg Jets (NHL)|
Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL)
|2011–2015||St. John's IceCaps|
|Regular season titles||1 (2008–09)|
|Division Championships||2 (2006–07), (2008–09)|
|Conference Championships||1 (2008–09)|
The franchise was founded as the Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League (IHL) in 1994. During its first tenure in Winnipeg (1996–2011), the Manitoba Moose played five seasons in the IHL and ten in the AHL. This was followed by four seasons in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador (2011–2015), during which time the team was known as the St. John's IceCaps. The team returned to Winnipeg prior to the 2015–16 season.
International Hockey League (1996–2001)
Following the departure of the original Winnipeg Jets franchise to Phoenix in 1996, a group of local businessmen, including Mark Chipman, purchased the Minnesota Moose of the IHL. The team was relocated to Winnipeg to provide a new tenant for the Winnipeg Arena and keep professional hockey in the city.
The team's first season in Winnipeg was a disaster. Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jean Perron was brought in to replace Frank Serratore as head coach and general manager. The Moose won only 16 of 50 games under Perron before he was fired on January 4, 1997. Upon his dismissal, Perron lashed out at team ownership, the media, and the players, including a personal attack on team captain Randy Gilhen. Perron threatened legal action against the organization, but nothing came of it. Assistant coach Randy Carlyle, a former Jets defenceman, took over as head coach and led the team to a winning record in their final 32 games of the season, but it was not enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Carlyle served as the head coach and general manager for remainder of the team's tenure in the IHL. The Moose had moderate regular season success and qualified for the Turner Cup playoffs three out of the next four seasons, making it as far as the second round. Carlyle was named the league's General Manager of the Year for the 1998–99 season. The Moose did not affiliate with an NHL club while playing in the IHL, although several did loan players to the team.
American Hockey League (2001–present)
2001–2011: Move to the AHL
The Moose and five other IHL teams were accepted into the AHL after the IHL's demise in 2001. The Moose were required to affiliate with an NHL club and became the top affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, a partnership that would last until the NHL's return to Winnipeg. Former Canucks star Stan Smyl was chosen by the Canucks as the new head coach of the Moose while Carlyle remained as general manager for one season before leaving to join the Washington Capitals coaching staff. In 2002–03, Smyl led the team to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs, but lost to the Hamilton Bulldogs in seven games. After the team missed the playoffs the following season, Smyl was reassigned within the Canucks organization.
Following the departure of Smyl, Carlyle returned as Moose head coach for the 2004-05 season. It was a season of big changes and new highs for the organization, as the Moose, now owned by True North Sports & Entertainment, played their final game at the old Winnipeg Arena and moved into the brand new MTS Centre (since renamed Bell MTS Place). The Moose made it to the conference final for the first time in team history, but were swept in four games by their old IHL rivals, the Chicago Wolves. Mark Chipman was awarded the James C. Hendy Memorial Award for AHL Executive of the Year. After the season, Carlyle was hired by the Anaheim Ducks as their new head coach, becoming the first of four consecutive Moose head coaches to leave the team for head coaching positions in the NHL.
Former Canadiens head coach Alain Vigneault was brought in as the new head coach for the 2005–06 season. The Moose signed Winnipeg native and three-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Keane and named him captain. Keane quickly became a fan favourite and the team had another great year, but again lost in the second round of the playoffs. After the season, Vigneault was promoted by the Canucks to fill their vacant head coaching position when Marc Crawford was let go.
Former Moose captain and assistant coach Scott Arniel was selected to replace Vigneault. Arniel coached the team for four seasons and, in 2008–09, led them to their best season in franchise history when the team finished with 107 points, the best record in the league. In the second round of the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Moose completed their first playoff sweep in franchise history, defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins. After beating the Houston Aeros in six games to win the Western Conference final, the Moose advanced to the Calder Cup finals for the first time, but lost the championship series in six games to the Hershey Bears. Arniel was awarded the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL Coach of the Year, while general manager Heisinger became the second member of the Moose front office staff to win the James C. Hendy Memorial Award.
Arniel became the third Moose coach in six years to make the jump to the NHL when he was hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets as their new head coach in 2010. Ironically, Arniel was replaced by the person he replaced in Columbus, Claude Noel. During the same off-season, Keane's contract was not renewed and his #12 jersey was later retired on Mike Keane Tribute Night, February 12, 2011. During the 2011 playoffs, the Moose came back from 3 game to 1 deficit to the Lake Erie Monsters in the first round to advance. They fell behind 3 games to 1 again in round two, this time to the Hamilton Bulldogs, and came back to force a seventh game. However, the Bulldogs took the series with a 2–1 win in triple overtime in the longest Game 7 in AHL history.
During their first tenure in the AHL, the Moose were one of the league's most successful franchises. Home game attendance was among the best in the league every season, including an average of 8,404 per game in the 2010-2011 season. The organization was also popular with the players, as the Moose "had the reputation of being run like an NHL club". League president and CEO David Andrews called the Moose "a flagship franchise for the AHL".
2011–2015: St. John's IceCaps
On May 31, 2011, Mark Chipman announced True North Sports and Entertainment's acquisition of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers with the intent of relocating the team to Winnipeg for the 2011–12 season. The return of the NHL to Winnipeg prompted True North to find a new home for its AHL franchise, thus ending the team's 15-year tenure in Manitoba. A deal with former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams was quickly negotiated to relocate the team to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, which was swiftly approved by the AHL Board of Governors. Upon relocation to St. John's, the team was renamed the St. John's IceCaps and became the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.
The success of the AHL franchise continued in St. John's. Attendance at Mile One Centre was strong, as the IceCaps enjoyed the second longest home sellout streak in league history at 120 games between 2011 and 2014. In 2011–12, the IceCaps won their division and advanced as far as the conference final. In 2013–14, the IceCaps advanced to the Calder Cup finals for the second time in franchise history, but lost to the Texas Stars in five games.
2015–present: Return to Manitoba
As early as January 2014, Chipman confirmed that True North was looking to move its AHL franchise closer to Winnipeg, with Thunder Bay, Ontario being cited as a preferred destination. Although True North and Danny Williams' group had extended their agreement through 2016, Williams agreed to terminate the deal early after negotiating the relocation of the Hamilton Bulldogs to St. John's for the 2015–16 season, retaining the IceCaps' name and graphical identity (with adjustments to match the Habs affiliation) for the relocated club.
As a new arena deal in Thunder Bay was not forthcoming, True North opted to return the franchise to Winnipeg for the 2015—16 season. As a result, the team is currently one of two AHL teams (along with the San Jose Sharks' affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda), that shares an arena with its NHL parent club. In May 2015, True North revealed that the team would once again be called the Manitoba Moose, at the same time unveiling slight changes to the former Moose logo and a colour scheme to match the Winnipeg Jets. The team also confirmed that Keith McCambridge, who had been with the Moose/IceCaps since 2009, would remain as head coach.
After one season in Manitoba and missing the playoffs for the second straight season, McCambridge was released by the Jets' organization and replaced by Jets assistant coach Pascal Vincent. The Moose missed the playoffs again in Vincent's first season, but a much improved performance during the 2017–18 season returned the Moose to playoffs again. Vincent was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award for AHL coach of the year, while players Sami Niku and Mason Appleton won major awards.
Logos and uniforms
The current Manitoba Moose uniforms are similar to those of the Winnipeg Jets, whose colours are polar night blue, aviator blue, silver, and white. However, unlike the Jets, the Moose wear their white uniforms for home games in accordance with AHL rules. During their IHL days, the Moose colours were purple, green, and copper. The team switched to teal, copper, and black after joining the AHL.
The original Minnesota Moose logo, depicting a Moose holding a hockey stick, was carried over when the team moved from Minnesota in 1996. The logo was slightly altered in 2001 to match the team's new colour scheme. A new logo created by Milwaukee-based graphic designer David Mann was introduced in 2004 (coinciding with the team's move from Winnipeg Arena to MTS Centre), which the team used until 2011. The Moose returned to a similar logo upon returning to Winnipeg in 2015, albeit with an altered colour scheme to match the new team colours and other slight changes.
Mick E. Moose debuted as the mascot of the Manitoba Moose in 1996. The Winnipeg Jets "recalled" him from the AHL in 2011 to become their mascot following the departure of the Moose to St. John's. He has doubled as mascot for both teams since 2015. Aside from hockey games, Mick E. Moose makes approximately one hundred public appearances each year at various community events.
TSN Radio 1290 (CFRW) streams all Moose games on the internet, while radio broadcasts are carried by CFRW when the Moose schedule does not conflict with Winnipeg Jets broadcasts or NFL games on the station. Former CBC sportscaster Mitch Peacock is the team's play-by-play announcer. CJOB 680 previously held Moose radio broadcast rights from 1996 to 2011, with Kelly Moore (1996–2006) and Brian Munz (2006–2011) as play-by-play announcers.
The Manitoba Moose play their home games at Bell MTS Place in downtown Winnipeg, which they share with the Winnipeg Jets. Although the arena seats 15,321 for hockey, only the lower bowl (which seats 8,812) is open for most Moose games. Practices and training sessions are usually held at Bell MTS Iceplex.
The team played at the Winnipeg Arena prior to the opening of the Bell MTS Place in November 2004.
|Standing||Year||Prelim||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||Finals|
|1996–97||82||32||40||—||10||—||74||262||300||5th, Midwest||1997||—||Did not qualify|
|1997–98||82||39||36||—||7||—||85||269||254||4th, Northwest||1998||—||L, 0–3, CHI||—||—||—|
|1998–99||82||47||21||—||14||—||108||269||236||2nd, Midwest||1999||—||W, 2–0, MIL||L, 0–3, CHI||—||—|
|1999–00||82||37||31||—||14||—||88||227||237||5th, West||2000||—||L, 0–2, LB||—||—||—|
|2000–01||82||39||31||—||12||—||90||222||230||3rd, West||2001||—||W, 4–3, HOU||L, 2–4, CHI||—|
|2001–02||80||39||33||4||4||—||86||270||260||4th, Canadian||2002||W, 2–1, WOR||L, 1–3, BRI||—||—||—|
|2002–03||80||37||33||8||2||—||84||229||228||2nd, Canadian||2003||W, 2–1, POR||W, 3–1, PRO||L, 3–4, HAM||—||—|
|2003–04||80||32||35||11||2||—||77||214||232||6th, North||2004||Did not qualify|
|2004–05||80||44||26||—||7||3||98||243||210||3rd, North||2005||—||W, 4–1, STJ||W, 4–1, RCH||L, 0–4, CHI||—|
|2005–06||80||44||24||—||7||5||100||243||217||3rd, North||2006||—||W, 4–2, SYR||L, 3–4, GR||—||—|
|2006–07||80||45||23||—||7||5||102||232||201||1st, North||2007||—||W, 4–3, GR||L, 2–4, HAM||—||—|
|2007–08||80||46||27||—||3||4||99||236||197||3rd, North||2008||—||L, 2–4, SYR||—||—||—|
|2008–09||80||50||23||—||1||6||107||230||177||1st, League||2009||—||W, 4–2, TOR||W, 4–0, GR||W, 4–2, HOU||L, 2–4, HER|
|2009–10||80||40||33||—||5||2||87||204||232||4th North||2010||—||L, 2–4, HAM||—||—||—|
|2010–11||80||43||30||—||1||6||93||220||210||3rd, North||2011||—||W, 4–3, LEM||L, 3–4, HAM||—||—|
|2011–2015||Played as St. John's IceCaps|
|2015–16||76||26||41||—||4||5||61||180||250||7th, Central||2016||—||Did not qualify|
|2016–17||76||29||37||—||5||5||68||197||242||7th, Central||2017||—||Did not qualify|
|2017–18||76||42||26||—||4||4||92||253||198||3rd, Central||2018||—||W, 3–2, GR||L, 0–4, RFD||—||—|
|2018–19||76||39||30||—||5||2||85||197||219||5th, Central||2019||—||Did not qualify|
- 12 – Mike Keane
Franchise scoring leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed AHL regular season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game
Reference: Internet Hockey Database
Updated to 2014–15 inclusive.
- Jean Perron, 1996–97 (fired 50 games into first season)
- Randy Carlyle, 1997–2001 (replaced by Stan Smyl)
- Stan Smyl, 2001–04 (returned to Vancouver Canucks as director of player development)
- Randy Carlyle, 2004–05 (became Anaheim Ducks head coach)
- Alain Vigneault, 2005–06 (became Vancouver Canucks head coach)
- Scott Arniel, 2006–10 (became Columbus Blue Jackets head coach)
- Claude Noel, 2010–11 (became Winnipeg Jets head coach)
- Keith McCambridge, 2015–16 (held position with franchise in St. John's from 2011–2015)
- Pascal Vincent, 2016–present
Team general managers
- Jean Perron, 1996–97 (fired 50 games into first season)
- Randy Carlyle, 1997–2002 (became Washington Capitals assistant coach)
- Craig Heisinger, 2002–present (held position with franchise in St. John's from 2011–2015)
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