NHL drama won't affect Moose, says coach

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:44 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The threat of relocation was a major distraction for the Phoenix Coyotes, but head coach Claude Noel is adamant the possibility of an NHL return to Winnipeg isn’t — and won’t be — one for his Manitoba Moose.

On the morning after the Coyotes were swept by the Detroit Red Wings, Noel addressed the issue following the morning skate.

“Not really, I don’t think it’s an issue for us,” said Noel, whose Moose trail the Lake Erie Monsters 2-1 going into Thursday’s fourth game of the best-of-7 North Division semifinal. “We talked about it once and that’s it. That’s behind us and we’re not dealing with that. We’ve got our own task here. We’re in the playoffs. We’ve got enough to deal with.

“These things work themselves out. We’re not going to start wondering. The media will be driving a lot of stuff now that Phoenix is eliminated. But for us, everything stays the same. We’re in a series and we’re trying to win it. So is the other team.”

Noel didn’t unveil the date of the discussion, but did reveal some of the contents.

“If you don’t deal with it, it becomes a distraction then, so let’s get it on the table. I talked for about three minutes and that was it — there were no questions and it wasn’t an open forum. They can’t control anything,” said Noel. “It really depends on how you want to take it as far as dealing with that situation. It’s not a bad thing for our players.

“There’s a lot of attention and if the Moose stay here in the NHL, potentially you become part of that organization. There’s a whole scheme of things that can take place. Right now, they’re going to be focused on what we’ve got going.”

During the playoff run, the Moose have instituted a policy where players are not allowed to talk about the possibility of an NHL return and how it might affect them.

Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. at the downtown arena and roughly 7,500 tickets have already been sold.


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