Canada already preparing for return of World Juniors

UFA, Russia — The 2014 world junior hockey championship will be in Malmo, Sweden, but Hockey Canada is already preparing for the tournament’s return to Canada.

UFA, Russia — The 2014 world junior hockey championship will be in Malmo, Sweden, but Hockey Canada is already preparing for the tournament’s return to Canada.

It comes back to Canada in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021. It’s part of a deal Hockey Canada worked out with the International Ice Hockey Federation and approved at the IIHF’s congress in 2009.

Canada settled for a fourth-place finish at this year’s tournament in Ufa, Russia. The United States won gold, Sweden took the silver and the host team won bronze.

The process for choosing the 2015, and possibly 2017, host cities will get underway early this year, according to Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith.

The governing body of hockey in Canada has invited people to register for the chance to buy tickets for 2015 and 2017, even though the host cities have yet to be chosen.

“They’ll get the first chance to go into whatever system we decide,” Smith said. “If we say we’re going to go to a lottery and whatever lottery that is, they’ll get the first chance to be registered for that.”

Registration, which ends Monday at midnight, doesn’t guarantee a ticket to either event. It will indicate appetite for the tournaments, which can help Hockey Canada and the organizing committees avoid the ticket fiasco of 2012.

Dozens of people whose names were drawn to buy ticket packages for the 2012 tournament in Calgary and Edmonton were disappointed when they logged on to the Internet to make their purchase and discovered tickets were sold out.

Successful entrants were able to buy a maximum of six tickets each and they did so at a pace unforeseen by the organizing committee. About 275,000 tickets were sold via that process.

“Everything that we forecasted at that time looked good until we got to the point where people bought tickets,” Smith said. “Whatever our benchmarks were, people purchased the max.

“Now we’ve got that 2012 experience, we know what the appetite is for world junior tickets and we’ll hopefully be able to use that intelligence better next time.”

The world junior tournament format will also include two more quarter-finals when it returns to Canada. The IIHF has altered the format to eliminate the bye to the semifinal. Starting in Malmo, the top four teams in each pool advance to quarter-finals.

The world junior championship has been held in Canada 10 times, including three tournaments in four years from 2009 to 2012.

But Hockey Canada has never known this far in advance it will get the tournament four times in seven years. That may alter the bid process.

“In the first few weeks of January we’ll decide what and how we’re going to do this,” Smith said. “This is the first time we’ve had four world juniors that we know are coming to Canada over the next period of years. We really haven’t determined what process we’ll use.

“I think it’s probably likely that we’ll have a not radically different approach, but modified approach.”

Previously, cities submitted letters of intent to bid. Hockey Canada decided on a short list of five cities, which were then invited to make presentations.

Smith says the goal is to name the 2015 host city by April. Awarding the 2017 tournament this year as well is also an option.

It’s no secret Hockey Canada would like to put the tournament in the province of Quebec, where it hasn’t been in more than 30 years. But that likely depends on when Quebec City completes its new arena.

A Quebec City-Montreal joint bid is attractive, although Montreal is problematic because the city can’t seem to retain a major junior team in the metro area.