On Wednesday, the American Hockey League announced its 2019-20 regular season schedule. And with it, the Manitoba Moose unveiled a new anniversary logo marking 20 seasons. The thing is, their first season in Winnipeg was 1996-97, so how exactly did they arrive at 20 seasons in 2019?
This one's not as complicated as it sounds. You may recall the Moose were suddenly shipped out of Winnipeg when the Atlanta Thrashers were bought and relocated in 2011-12. From then until 2015, the AHL franchise played in Newfoundland as the St. John's IceCaps. So if 1996-97 through 2019-20 gets you to 24 seasons, you just subtract the four the team spent in the Maritimes to find your way back to 20.
It's the first instance I can recall of a team marking an anniversary that simply bypasses multiple chunks of the franchise's history. See, the Moose may have played their first season in Manitoba in 1996, but the franchise was actually founded in 1994 as the Minnesota Moose in St. Paul. The club was intended to fill the professional hockey gap left by the relocation of the North Stars to Dallas.
Two years later, the Moose franchise was sold to Mark Chipman, who relocated the team to Winnipeg. It wouldn't be the last time he'd snap up an American hockey team and move it to his hometown, would it? But I'm getting off track.
The Moose will wear this logo as a jersey patch throughout the 2019-20 season, according to their website. They'll also play a "20th Season Game" on Feb. 7, which will likely feature a special sweater, as is common practice in the AHL.
If you're curious about other AHL teams marking special anniversaries, I haven't come across any yet. But one team to note is the Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers. They relocated from Albany and assumed the local ECHL team's branding in 2010, meaning next season would mark their 10th year in the league. Not sure if they have any plans around that. We'll see.