VANCOUVER – Since 2001, the Manitoba Moose have been the American Hockey League affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. That changed on Tuesday morning with the announcement of the Atlanta Thrashers relocating to Winnipeg.
The relocation is subject to a Board of Governors vote, which will take place on June 21 in New York. There will be two votes that day -- one on the new ownership (True North Sports and Entertainment) and another on the relocation. Transfer of ownership requires a 75 percent vote of approval, while relocation requires a majority vote.
Thirteen members of the Canucks' current roster battling for the Stanley Cup spent at least sometime with the Moose, who moved to the AHL from the International Hockey League when the latter folded in 2001.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault spent the 2005-06 season behind the Moose bench as their head coach.
"The organization treated us like we were an NHL team," said Victor Oreskovich, who spent 40 games in Manitoba this season. "Obviously, that was a goal of theirs. They were pushing for that. They always wanted an NHL franchise.
"I don't see it being that difficult of a transition for them because they were already so well run. I think it will be a good spot to play in."
Canucks GM Mike Gillis said the organization had anticipated Winnipeg getting a NHL franchise, and it has a few options for its AHL affiliate next season.
"We have a number of (options) that are available to us," Gillis said. "We anticipate having a relationship with a minor-league affiliate, whether it's us owning a team (or) whether it's us doing what we've done in the past with Manitoba.
"The exact location is unknown at this point. In all likelihood, we'll have it wrapped up in the next few weeks."
Goaltender Cory Schneider, the Canucks' first-round selection at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, spent three seasons with the Moose and guided them to their only Calder Cup Final appearance in 2009, when they lost to the Hershey Bears.
"It is very welcoming and a close-knit town," the 25-year-old said. "It was a great place to play in the minors and learn your trade while dealing with the pressure and expectations of playing in a Canadian city while not actually being in the NHL.
"I think it did me a lot of good."
Schneider holds the franchise single-season records for wins (35), goals-against average (2.04) and save percentage (.928).