Montreal Canadiens' farm team coming to Laval in 2017

It will be even easier for Habs fans in the Montreal area to keep tabs on the team's up-and-coming stars beginning in 2017.

Team currently plays in St. John's, Nfld., used to play in Hamilton, Ont.

The Habs announced Monday its American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, will move to Laval for the start of the 2017 season. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

If you've ever wanted to help name a hockey team, now is your chance.

The Montreal Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate will relocate from St. John's, Nfld., to Laval, Que., for the 2017-2018 season.

"The doctors aren't far, the trainers aren't far, the organization's not far, so we can spend a lot more time developing our players because they're 30 minutes away by car, or even less if there's no traffic," said team owner Geoff Molson.

But the team won't have a name, and that's where the fans come in — the Habs are asking for suggestions on what to call the new team.

Until Friday, July 22, fans can submit their suggestions online. The best suggestions will be put to a vote starting July 26. The winner will be announced in the fall and the creator of the winning entry will receive a pair of season tickets.

Another move for the farm club

The relocation will make it even easier for Habs fans in the Montreal area to keep tabs on the team's up-and-coming stars.

The St. John's IceCaps played their first season as part of the Habs' family last year after moving from Hamilton, Ont., where the team was known as the Bulldogs.
The 2016-2017 will be the final season the St. John's IceCaps will play as a Montreal Canadiens affiliate. (Twitter/@IceCapsAHL)

The move to St. John's was a two-year deal. One more season in Newfoundland was possible if the arena in Laval wasn't ready in time, but Laval says construction is on schedule.

"There are only three Canadian cities with AHL teams, so the name Laval will be heard across North America," said Laval Mayor Marc Demers.

Place Bell is located about 21 kilometres from the Bell Centre and downtown Montreal. The building will boast an ice surface that can accommodate 10,000 spectators and can be transformed into an event venue, a community rink, an Olympic-size ice surface as well as an indoor parking lot.
Place Bell, which will be home to the Habs' farm club starting in 2017, is slated to open in September of that year. (Twitter/@CanadiensMTL)

The original price tag was to be $92.6 million but by 2014, that estimate ballooned to $200 million.

Losing a hockey team is a familiar feeling for St. John's hockey fans — the AHL's St. John's Maple Leafs left Newfoundland in 2005 to be closer to its parent club in Toronto.

The St. John's IceCaps organization released a statement Monday saying it is "undaunted" about the team's departure, which it points out was expected, and that it is looking for a new team to bring to Newfoundland.

with files from Daniel MacEachern