The American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves are the Atlanta Thrashers' top minor league affiliate. So what happens if the Thrashers move to Winnipeg, which is about 800 or so miles away from Chicago?
First of all, True North already owns an AHL team -- Winnipeg's Manitoba Moose, who are reportedly moving to St. John's. That would put the Moose half a planet away from their current affiliate Vancouver Canucks, thus making them available for somebody else to pick up, but they'd also be over 4,000 miles away from Winnipeg. Canada is really enormous.
So could the Wolves end up linked with the Canucks? From the sound of it, the Wolves can do just about whatever they want, as they're one of the continent's most desirable and well-run minor league hockey teams. They're the only AHL team with their own full TV deal, for instance.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Wolves remain a part of the Thrashers franchise even if it moved, as they'd only be a few minutes of air time farther away from Winnipeg than they already are from Atlanta.
Don't expect to see the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators remain affiliated with the Wolves and Thrashers in that event, however -- not only would that spread out Winnipeg's farm system all around the hemisphere, it would also be horrible for Glads marketing to be shipping players on into Winnipeg's organization. The Gladiators will stay here either way, but we'd have to wait and see how a Thrashers move would impact the team.
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