AHL plays waiting game for Moose

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The American Hockey League is willing to extend its deadline to give Winnipeg more time to land an NHL franchise.

The AHL generally asks team owners to declare their intentions for the following season at its spring meetings, set for next week.

But AHL president/CEO Dave Andrews doesnt expect Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman to know his plans by then.

Were going to provide a little more room to everybody in the league, in terms of their declaration for next year, Andrews said, Monday. Because we dont expect were going to be ready by the 10th of May.

In fact, Andrews said his drop-dead date is still more than a month away.

We probably could still function through until mid-June, even late June, he said. We went through this last year at the same time. We went to a board meeting with two different divisional and conference alignments and two different schedule formats, and one had Manitoba in it and one didnt. And we are going down the same path.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been coy about his own deadline to work out a sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. Speculation has varied widely, from the next week to another month, or more.

What happens in Winnipeg doesnt just affect one AHL franchise, either.

If Chipman lands either the Coyotes or Atlanta Thrashers, the Vancouver Canucks would be looking for a new AHL affiliate, since the Moose franchise would likely go dark for a season.

Its getting a little late, Andrews acknowledged, referring to the possibility the Moose find a new home in time for next season. Its not out of the question. Unless something develops quickly, hed probably disband his AHL franchise and share the players somewhere else, and start looking for a (new) home.


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