The Red Deer Rebels will know in two weeks what their calendar will entail a little over 19 months down the road.
In May of 2016, the Rebels will either be on the golf course, chasing a Western Hockey League title and/or preparing to host the Memorial Cup tournament.
The Western Hockey League board of governors will decide Oct. 8 at the Calgary Delta Bow Valley Hotel if it’s the Rebels or the Vancouver Giants who will stage major junior hockey’s championship event in roughly a year and a half.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter confirmed Tuesday that the club is putting the final touches on its Memorial Cup bid, which will be submitted to the WHL head office next week.
The business side of the bid includes a financial guarantee, while hotel availability, access to Westerner facilities — which will host secondary events tied to the tournament — and a virtual promise that the team will be a force in the 2015-16 season are also part of the presentation.
“It’s a total package,” said Sutter. “It will be presented to the league, evaluated and then discussed with the governors. If they have any questions, they will be answered on Oct. 8.”
The bid competition was officially reduced from three to two teams last week when the Victoria Royals pulled out of the race. The Royals front office has never explained the decision.
“We knew a few weeks ago that they were leaning that way,” Sutter said of the Royals’ decision to pull their bid. “I did have some communication with their GM, Cam Hope. They’re a first-class organization and they’re like ourselves, a middle-market team.
“I certainly have a lot of respect for their organization. Victoria is a great city and they will have the opportunity to host the Memorial Cup in the near future.”
• As he discussed his club’s Memorial Cup bid, Sutter was en route to Calgary to pick up Rebels forward and captain Conner Bleackley, who was reassigned by the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day and will be in the Red Deer lineup Saturday when the Kootenay Ice visit the Centrium.
Defenceman Haydn Fleury, who like Bleackley was selected in the first round of June’s NHL entry draft, remains with the Carolina Hurricanes. Fleury will likely be reassigned to the Rebels within the next two to three weeks, if not sooner.
• Four Rebels are among 42 WHL players identified by Central Scouting as likely-to-potential picks in next year’s NHL entry draft. Forward Adam Musil is a ‘B’ prospect, a second/third round candidate, while forward Grayson Pawlenchuk, defenceman Mario Grman and goaltender Taz Burman are ‘C’ prospects, projected as fourth/fifth/sixth round picks.
• Trochu native Mike Winther, 20, was dealt by the Calgary Hitmen to the Kamloops Blazers Tuesday in return for a fourth-round bantam draft pick in 2015 and a sixth-round selection in 2017.
After scoring 32 goals with the Prince Albert Raiders during the 2011-12 season, Winther was selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round of the NHL entry draft.
His production fell off the following season and he was traded to the Hitmen last winter. Winther played only 31 games in 2013-14 due to injury and was not offered a contract by the Stars, thus becoming a free agent.
The trade occurred one day after the Saskatoon Blades sent high-powered Russian winger Nikita Scherbak to the Everett Silvertips in return for 17-year-old netminder Nik Amundrud as well as a first-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft and a second-rounder the following year.
Scherbak, who was selected 26th overall in this year’s NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens, is currently at training camp with Montreal and will not join the Tips immediately.