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Posted 2016 March 21
So I was looking into the tangled history of the Manitoba Moose, and the more I look at it, the more it looks like a strange soap opera.
The story begins way back in 1972, when the founders of the American Basketball Association decided that pissing off one major league wasn't enough, and formed the World Hockey Association. One of the charter WHA teams was the (first) Winnipeg Jets. Things went reasonably well for the Jets during their time in the WHA: not only were they one of only four charter WHA franchises to survive all the way to the league's demise in 1979, but they also won three of the seven WHA championships. They also managed to do quite well during the 1980s as an NHL team, but by the early 1990s the team was seeing financial difficulties.
Meanwhile, down in Minnesota's Twin Cities, the Minnesota North Stars were on their way to Dallas. They had been sold to a new owner only a couple of years before, and depending on who and what you choose to believe, the reasons had to do with either poor attendance in the Twin Cities, an inability to get a better stadium built in the Twin Cities, the fact that the owner was embroiled in a sexual harassment suit filed by his executive assistant, or maybe this had been the new owner's evil plan all along. In any case, the new owner sent the team to Dallas, and the people of the Twin Cities wanted another NHL team now. They set their sights on luring the Jets, because who worries about pissing off Canadians anyway? They're too polite to retaliate, after all. It didn't work out, but in the meanwhile Minneapolis managed to snag an International Hockey League franchise, which they named the Minnesota Moose.
The Jets wound up moving a couple of years later, but to Phoenix, not Minneapolis. Now Winnipeg wanted a hockey team. And there was that little detail about those bastards down in the Twin Cities trying to steal the Jets a few years ago. Didn't those morons understand that the whole "too polite to retaliate" thing is bullshit, especially when hockey is involved? So someone in Winnipeg bought the Moose and brought them to Winnipeg, and I'm sure the people of the Twin Cities were devastated until about a year later when the NHL announced the Twin Cities were going to get an expansion team in 2000. That's when the people of Winnipeg learned about a cosmic form of retaliation known as "karma". But hey, at least they had hockey, and the Manitoba Moose went on to be one of the most successful teams in the IHL, right up until the moment when the IHL collapsed. Fortunately for Winnipeg, the Moose was one of several teams absorbed by the AHL in the wake of the IHL's demise.
But still, that nagging doubt. Sure, the AHL is nice, but...surely we're an NHL city, right? Even if that jackass Bettman doesn't know it? And there's that team down in Atlanta...whose bright idea was that? And we're still sorta torked off that those guys down in Twin Cities tried to steal our team and got rewarded for it. We deserve a reward, too.
So the Moose bought the Thrashers and brought them to Winnipeg. (I'd say the people of Atlanta felt the same sting of betrayal that the people of Winnipeg and the Twin Cities had felt years before, but honestly, I don't think much of anyone in Atlanta really gave a shit.) And much like the old soap opera trope, the new person in town tried to ingratiate himself with the locals by using the name of a well-loved person who had disappeared years ago. Meanwhile, the Moose slinked out of town, trying their fortunes out east in the Maritimes.
And that brings us to this year. Again, someone has returned. Again, that person is using the name of someone the locals used to know and love. The twist is that this time it really is the same person: the Moose-cum-IceCaps are the IceCaps-cum-Moose, which is to say they're the Moose-cum-Moose...which is to say this has stopped sounding like a soap opera and started sounding like wildlife porn. Or maybe it's a song by the Who: Meet the new Moose, same as the old Moose.
In any case, the new Moose are using almost the exact same logo as the old Moose. It's a different color scheme (blue, grey and white intead of the old teal, brown, and black) and there are a few other changes, but most of those are so subtle that they could serve the basis of one of those "spot the differences" puzzles that used to appear in newspapers back in the days when newspapers were a thing.
I very much prefer the old logo (due entirely to the different color scheme), but I certainly understand the team wanting to match its color scheme to their parent team when they literally play in the same building. If there's anything to be questioned here, it's the idea of putting your top farm team in the same building as their parent team. But guess what? It's working. As I write this, the Moose have the sixth-highest attendance in the AHL (as well as all of minor-league hockey). The team that ought to be overshadowed, that ought to have absolutely no chance of success, is thriving.
Frankly, that's a plot twist you could never get away with in a soap opera.
Final Score: 9 points.
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