Friday, 19 February 2021


The building to the left is the BellMTS Iceplex at the furthest point west in the city of Winnipeg, bordering on a small community named Headingley. While none of this geographic information is very helpful at the moment with Manitoba's current Return to Play situation preventing indoor practices and games for minor hockey, the BellMTS Iceplex will start being a lot busier thanks to a decision made today by True North Sports and Entertainment based upon the NHL's new COVID-19 protocols as the AHL's Manitoba Moose will call the BellMTS Iceplex home for the foreseeable future once they return from their four-game road trip out in Laval, Quebec.

According to a report from Global News' Abigail Turner today, "[t]he team told Global News the move is due to the enhanced NHL protocols that were announced late last week" and that "the team highlights that COVID-19 is an evolving situation, making their decisions fluid."

While there is no doubt that this move likely wasn't expected by the Moose, the decision to move the Moose to the practice facility and out of the BellMTS Place in downtown Winnipeg means that there are zero AHL teams playing in NHL barns this season after the San Jose Barracuda moved to the new Solar4America Ice in San Jose. Manitoba was the only squad to share a home with an NHL team, but that arrangement has been put on hold thanks to the pandemic.

If you're in charge of finances for True North Sports and Entertainment, this move may benefit the organization as well. The costs involved with having to have BellMTS Place up and running for AHL games was likely higher or similar to what is when the Jets play, so the move to the smaller, less technologically-endowed BellMTS Iceplex likely means costs go down for the Moose which will save TNSE some dough in the long run. With no fans allowed in either building yet, the cavernous BellMTS Place downtown was more space than the Moose would have ever needed for this season.

The end result is that with no fans in the rink, this swapping of home rinks for the Moose won't really move the needle aside from the Moose equipment manager not having to worry about hauling everything between two rinks. Having worked inside the BellMTS Iceplex doing radio, there are ample spots to setup and broadcast, and I'm sure the camera angles for the webcast feeds will be sorted out very quickly. In short, it will look different, but it won't affect how the Moose play in any way.

I am curious what the Moose have planned for their graphics and video teams since there are no video boards at the BellMTS Iceplex. The benefit of the Jumbotron at BellMTS Place was that it could be used for a wide variety of purposes when it came to graphics and video, but the BellMTS Iceplex just has standard scoreboards: two scores, time, penalties, and not much else. Perhaps there will be a video board installed for replays at one end of the ice?

The too-long-didn't-read portion of this story is that the Moose are heading to a smaller facility away from the where the Jets play due to the NHL's COVID-19 rules that were enhanced by the NHL a week or so ago. They'll lose some NHL amenities in doing so, but they're working with the Jets within this fluid and oft-changing pandemic situation. Personally, as long as the Moose keep winning, I'm not complaining about this move out to the Winnipeg suburbs one bit.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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