Unless you are a Canadian who has been spending a lot of quality time in a cave over the past month you are no doubt aware that Winnipeg has regained an NHL team by way of Atlanta causing a bit of a chain reaction. The Atlanta Thrashers have moved to Winnipeg to become the TBAs (but might have a name today by the time you read this). The reaction being that Winnipeg had a pre-existing AHL hockey team the Manitoba Moose which has now moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
On the surface many believed that “the Moose” would be a natural name for a St. John’s AHL team as Moose are a majestic part of Canadiana and a prominent fixture in NL. While Moose are prominent in NL, they are not native to the province. In 1904 four Moose from New Brunswick were introduced to Newfoundland for the purposes of big game and providing meat for island inhabitants. It was a wildly successful introduction as the landscape particularly suits the Moose and there are no natural predators on the island, to the point where currently there are somewhere between 125,000-150,000 Moose on the island.
Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Moose is not such a good fit for a team name in St. John’s. While Moose are a prominent feature of NL there are negative connotations to naming a pro sports franchise after them. There are approximately 800 vehicle Moose collisions in NL each year causing many deaths and serious injuries for the people involved, to quote former premier and team owner Danny Williams:
Too many negative connotations, with all the moose-vehicle accidents we have in this province…We don’t want to be launching a team nicknamed Moose in September when there are reports of accidents involving moose all over the news.
The topic of Moose in NL is charged to such an extent that a lawsuit has been launched whereby victims of Moose collisions are suing the provincial government over the introduction of the animal to the island in 1904, claiming that the provincial government is legally responsible for the many damages to lives caused by those collisions. Earlier this month this lawsuit was certified and it will proceed through the courts. There are, as yet, no court docs, to link to which I could find.
While this is a serious topic in Newfoundland, Newfoundlanders are also famous for their sense of humour and felt it might be appropriate to see how the Moose themselves might feel about all of this.
The lesson in all of this being that if a Thrasher flaps its wings in Atlanta and a Jet lands in Winnipeg a Moose will feel a breeze in St. John’s.