American Hockey League (1981-1988)
Born: 1981 – AHL expansion franchise.
Died: June1988 – The Express relocate to Halifax, Noa Scotia.
Arena: Aitken Centre
The Fredericton Express was an American Hockey League team in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick. The club was founded as an expansion team in 1981 to serve as a farm club to the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques. In 1982, the Vancouver Canucks entered a partnership with the Nordiques to jointly operate and provide prospects to the club, although Quebec continued in the lead role, including appointing the Fredericton President and the farm team’s Head Coach.
Strains in the arrangement between the two NHL clubs came out in the open after the Canucks hired Brian Burke as Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations in 1987. Burke visited Fredericton for the first time in October of that year. The previous season the Express had the 2nd worst record in the AHL and the team’s top five scorers were all sent down by the Canucks. Burke made clear to the local press that the Canucks were unhappy with the partnership and with Quebec’s track record in contributing worthy coaches and players to the farm club.
Despite the management turmoil, the Express had their finest season in 1987-88. The team advanced to the Calder Cup championship series for the first and only time, where they were swept in four games by the Hershey Bears. The losses to Hershey in the Finals series turned out to be the final games ever played by the Express. The following month, Vancouver, as expected, bought out the final year of its agreement with Quebec. The Canucks set up their own farm team at Milwaukee in the International League to replace Fredericton. The Nordiques, meanwhile, moved the former Express franchise to Halifax, Nova Scotia in June of 1988, where team was re-branded as the Halifax Citadels prior to the 1988-89 season.
After a two-year absence, the AHL returned to Fredericton in 1990 with the arrival of the Fredericton Canadiens (1990-1999).
==Fredericton Express Games on Fun While It Lasted==
|1982-83||1/11/1983||vs. Baltimore Skipjacks||??||Program|
|1984-85||1/26/1985||vs. Nova Scotia Oilers||?? Program|
|1986-87||3/19/1987||vs. Springfield Indians||??||Program|
|1986-87||3/29/1987||@ Maine Mariners||??||Program|
|1987-88||12/27/1987||@ Maine Mariners||??||Program|
|1987-88||3/6/1988||@ Binghamton Whalers||Program|
|1987-88||4/24/1988||@ Maine Mariners||??||Program|