The 2013 Memorial Cup tournament will be awarded to one of three host finalists Wednesday in Calgary.
Is there an actual favourite among Red Deer, Saskatoon and Kelowna? Which organization will put forth the most dazzling bid presentation? What are the pros and cons to be considered?
The league governors will answer the second question; as for the first and third queries, well . . .
• Pros — The Credit Union Centre, with a seating capacity of just over 15,000, is by far the largest of the three facilities involved in the bidding and the Blades should have at least a competitive squad next season, a key factor in the equation.
• Cons — The Blades are not well supported by the local population and the Credit Union Centre is located north of the city, a lone-standing facility in an industrial section. The Memorial Cup tournament is about more than the games and the various off-ice activities would have to take place well away from the rink.
• Pros — Is there a more sunshine-splashed and scenery-stealing region than the Okanagan Valley in May? The Rockets should be strong in 2012-13 and the club’s facility — Prospera Place — is located in the downtown region.
• Cons — Kelowna hosted the highly-successful 2004 Memorial Cup, and while that might appear to be a positive, surely the governors will wonder if the B.C. city deserves another shot at staging the national championship just nine years later.
• Pros — The city has successfully hosted big-name events like the world junior championship, Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts — as has Saskatoon — and the Rebels will return roughly 18 players next season, many of whom will be third- and fourth-year veterans. In addition, it’s Alberta’s turn; the Memorial Cup tournament hasn’t been in the Wild Rose province since Calgary hosted in 1974.
Three other positives: Rebels owner and Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter is still a well-respected figure among WHL governors, the Centrium will undergo a major renovation next year with the addition of 1,000 seats and 14 private boxes, and the Parkland Pavilion and the other Westerner facilities will be made available to house the additional Memorial Cup activities.
• Cons — None to speak of outside of the fact the closest airports are 75 minutes away.
Is Red Deer the favourite? One could assume.
On the move: The Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants teamed up on a multi-player deal Tuesday, with overage goaltender Adam Morrison and winger Levi Bews heading west in return for 20-year-old forward Michael Burns, defenceman Zach Hodder, 18, and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. The newest Giants paid immediate dividends, as Bews scored once and Morrison stopped 25 shots in regulation time and was perfect during a shootout in a 3-2 win Wednesday over the visiting Spokane Chiefs . . . The Moose Jaw Warriors were hoping they had plugged a perceived problem area when they acquired netminder Luke Siemens from the Everett Silvertips Monday. So far, so good, as Siemens, 19, made 19 saves in a 3-2 win over Lethbridge Wednesday. Everett fared well in the trade for Siemens, who was a back-up for the ‘Tips, receiving a third-round pick in each of the 2012 and 2013 bantam drafts as well as forward Matt Grant, who is currently with Cowichan of the BCHL.
Just notes: Head shots continue to be a major no-no with the WHL head office, which on Tuesday came down hard on Charles Inglis, suspending the Prince George Cougars forward 10 games for his elbow to the head of Victoria Royals defenceman Tyler Stahl last weekend. Stahl suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely. “We’ve stated from the outset of the season that we will do everything we can to reduce the number of head injuries,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “If any injury occurs from a hit to the head, then a significant suspension will be the result.” Inglis received a five-minute major and a match penalty following the incident. “It was a vicious hit, no doubt about it,” said Royals GM and head coach Marc Habscheid. “We’re trying to take that sort of hit out of the game.” Inglis didn’t receive any sympathy from Cougars GM Dallas Thompson. “These are the types of hits all leagues are trying to get out of the game,” said Thompson. “Unfortunately we had an incident. Now the suspension has come down. We move on.” . . . Brandon Wheat Kings forward Mark Stone is the WHL player of the week after scoring four goals and adding five assists in three games . . . Three WHL teams are listed in the latest CHL MasterCard Top 10 rankings, with the Regina Pats fourth, the Tri-City Americans seventh and the Kelowna Rockets ranked No. 9 . . . The Red Deer Rebels will be involved in three Shaw broadcasts this season — Jan. 11 and 27 at home to Kootenay and Tri-City, and Feb. 3 at Edmonton.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate