A little bit of this, and a little bit of that

Robin Short
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Most IceCaps fans don’t want to hear this, but the odds are not exactly stacked in St. John’s favour that the city will land another American Hockey League franchise when the Winnipeg Jets pick up stakes and leave town next year.

The problem is simple, really: there are not a lot of teams or franchises available, and don’t hold your breath on the Ottawa Senators, whose affiliation agreement with Binghamton, N.Y. expires the same time as the St. John’s-Winnipeg contract — after the 2014-15 season.

And don’t think money will come into play in any decision-making. Because, 1. the cost of operating a minor league operation is, in the big picture, lunch money, or akin to employing a third-line NHL winger. And, 2. the falling Canadian dollar has no bearing on a Canadian-based NHL team running its farm club out of the U.S., like Ottawa and Bingo. That’s because most, if not all, operating expenses in Binghamton are paid for by the Binghamton franchise.

It says here the best shot at an AHL team for St. John’s comes from the province of Quebec, and no, not the Montreal Canadiens.

Quebec City is forging ahead with its new hockey arena, and don’t think for a moment the folks up there are driving a $400-million project without some kind of guarantee from the NHL — an unofficial wink and a nudge — that expansion is pending.

And therein lies St. John’s best crack at the AHL. Quebec City, like Winnipeg a few years ago, will need a minor league outfit put together in a hurry.

And just as this city proved three years ago, it will be ready, willing and definitely able.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Say one thing for St. John’s, considering the AHL’s home office really, really wants a franchise to remain in St. John’s where it recognizes a solid market, and the fact Glenn Stanford is one of league’s senior statesman with an array of industry contacts, and the fact Danny Williams’ has a propensity for getting things done, if this city does not land a team in the next 12-24 months, it never will again ... Martin St. Louis may be 38, but he can still scoot and score ... There are still many who contend that of the Newfoundland-produced hockey players, none possess the all-round, pure skill John Slaney boasted ...

And I thought I had it rough in Torino? Eight years ago, covering the Torino Winter Olympics, my accommodations were in the village of Grugliasco. My particular “Media Village” was a future veterinarian school residence, and my room was designed for wheelchair access. This room, home for nearly three weeks, was about a 20 feet x 20 feet in area, with a single bed, night table, small armoire, a desk, chair and tiny TV that at least had the BBC. Nothing else. I wanted to buy some furniture to decorate the place. But at least I had a shower curtain ... I get it that folks don’t care what the media has to go through, from frightful travel tales to accommodation woes, to get the story. But when these same media people relay stories of second- and third-rate living conditions in Sochi, they are at the same time reporting on the conditions athletes and visitors to the Russian city are facing. So it irks me when I hear some, especially those in the media, who should know better, chiding sports reporters for complaining about their accommodations. Then again, if Gander is the furthest you’ve been, you probably have no idea what it’s like to work for two-plus weeks far away from home ...

The IceCaps have a half-decent team, but imagine St. John’s with Eric O’Dell and Zach Redmond back in the lineup? And if Winnipeg fails to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, picture Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele, both on entry level contracts, playing for St. John’s in the post season. But would their appearance in the lineup upset the chemistry apple cart? ... Pitchers and catchers report Thursday ...

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort

Organizations: NHL, Ottawa Senators, BBC

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Binghamton, Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. Ottawa Bingo Province of Quebec Montreal Canadiens.Quebec Torino Quebec City Newfoundland Grugliasco Sochi

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