When the Manitoba Moose franchise moved to St. John’s in 2011, the people at True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns both the American Hockey League team and parent Winnipeg Jets, wanted the Moose nickname to remain in place.
However, here in Newfoundland, there was much objection to the moniker, partly because of the negative connotation that comes with the frequent — and often deadly — moose-vehicle accidents on our province’s highways.
In the end, the team became the IceCaps.
Craig Heisinger, the IceCaps’ general manager, was provided with an unwelcome first-hand example of why there was local opposition to the Moose nickname Saturday night.
Heisinger, who is also the Jets’ assistant GM, was the lone passenger in a vehicle driven by IceCaps’ director of hockey operations Brad Andrews that struck a bull moose about 10 kilometres east of Clarenville, where the two had taken in Saturday’s AHL pre-season game between the IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch.
The two were shaken up and the large SUV they were in suffered extensive damage; the collision was such that the air bags deployed. At the same time, both Heisinger and Andrews agree the outcome could have been much worse if they had been in a smaller car.
Neither required medical attention and the two were eventually able to complete their journey to St. John’s with other IceCaps personnel who were in a trailing vehicle.
The badly-injured moose had to be put down at the scene.
“Yes, we wanted to keep the Moose nickname at the time and we were actually pretty emphatic about it,” said Heisinger Sunday morning. “I guess one of the reasons why people here didn’t want it was reinforced for me (Saturday) night.
“We were very fortunate.”