This chart maps out where all 18 QMJHL franchises are currently located. The map was made after the 2007-2008 season and includes statistics on each city's total population and average attendance.
Last week RDS reported the rumour about the PEI Rocket and a relocation to Sherbrooke, QC. Both Serge Savard SR. and JR have since denied the ownership group have any intention to relocate the team and stated their priority is to remain in Charlottetown, PEI. They're currently working with the city in order to renew the arena lease. The only obstacle I see in the team moving to Sherbrooke is the city's already dedicated fan base to the LNAH's Saint-Francois de Sherbrooke. But I'm sure with the right marketing group involved this challenge could be overcome.
The word "relocation" is nothing new for the Lewiston Maniacs who submitted their proposal to relocate to Boisbriand, QC, back in January of 2009. Because Boisbriand is located within the Montreal Juniors' territorial region, the Juniors were able to block the proposal. This time around, the rumour is Lewiston would relocate to Summerside, P.E.I.. If this were to happen, the P.E.I Rocket would almost surely be on the move because the Savards have already said they don't believe the province is prepared to support 2 QMJHL franchises. A huge downside of Lewiston packing their bags would be a loss of the American fan base. Those who follow the QMJHL and the MAINEiacs are die-hard hockey fans however it's been tough for the ownership group to grow this fan base even through extensive marketing exercises because of the harm that's been done over the past few years with their "we're leaving" and "we're staying" mixed messages.
The third, and most likely team to move is the Acadie Bathurst Titan. Attendance is miserable and there isn't much of a population to draw from to begin with. The city most likely to be on the receiving end of a move is St. John's, NFLD. That's right, St. John's. The same city that sold a franchise to Montreal only 3 year short years ago. So why go back to the rock? Well, the prospective ownership group has apparently come to terms with the city on a more affordable arrangement which would allow the team to be profitable this time around. The Mile One Center is a class A+ hockey arena and is a perfect rink for major junior tean. The only obstacle here remains travel costs and finding a solution for this would need to be part of the re-structured partnership between the owners, city and the league. I love the city of St. John's and the province of Newfoundland therefore I hope this rumor comes true.
As of now, all three teams have denied their intentions to pack up and leave their current markets. We'll follow the news on this and hope to know more in early February.