Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And the 2013 Memorial Cup goes to . . .

This is a big day for the WHL as the board of governors will vote on the host team for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
As well, the WHL is expected to join the NHL, OHL, QMJHL and KHL by announcing that it will begin using video to explain the lengthier suspensions that are being handed out this season.
First, the Memorial Cup . . .
The chase began with five teams involved. However, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince George Cougars were eliminated when the list was trimmed to three. That leaves the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades to make final presentations today.
Red Deer has to be the sentimental favourite, if only because the Memorial Cup hasn’t been decided in Alberta since the Regina Pats won it in the Calgary Corral in 1974. The Enmax Centrium, the home of the Rebels, seats 5,735 with standing room for 1,000. But there are plans to expand the facility to 7,000 seats and to add more corporate boxes.
The Centrium will be home to the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women’s curling championship.
Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner and president who is head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, will be in Calgary today. He will be at the meeting, which means he will miss a Flames’ practice in Montreal.
The Rockets were the host team for the 2004 Memorial Cup, which they won. That tournament was as well run as any that have been held.
The Rockets’ home, Prospera Centre, seats 6,007, with standing room for 500.
The Memorial Cup last was held in Saskatoon in 1989, when the Swift Current Broncos beat the Blades in overtime, on Tim Tisdale’s goal, in the championship game. The Blades’ home, Credit Union Centre, can seat 15,195 fans.
Jack Brodsky, the Blades’ governor and president, is one of the WHL’s longest-serving owners. There has been speculation that Brodsky made be stepping aside, or at least moving into a role in which he will be less involved, after this season. That may well be in the minds of some of his fellow governors as the presentations and voting take place today.
In the end, however, it may come down to money, and wouldn’t that be a surprise. With expenses showing no signs of slowing down and some teams losing fistfuls of money (see: Broncos, Swift Current), it could be that the team that guarantees the biggest profit will be the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup.
The 2012 tournament is scheduled for Shawinigan, Que.
As for the use of video to explain the lengthier suspensions, it is hard to imagine that the WHL won’t take this step after the QMJHL announced Tuesday that is going down that road. The OHL has been using video for two or three weeks now.
The QMJHL said it will use video presentations to explain suspensions of three games or more. Those videos will be posted on the QMJHL website, with explanations in English and French.
"We want to be more transparent and explain the reasons behind the disciplinary decisions," QMJHL president Gilles Courteau said in a statement. "With video becoming increasingly prominent, we must take the necessary steps to make sure that our process is better understood."
The QMJHL has had to issue only one suspension longer than three games this season. That was a five-game sentence to D Etienne Boutet of the Rimouski Oceanic for a check to the head of F Thomas Flynn of the Moncton Wildcats.
(By the way, the Kontinental Hockey League has announced that it, too, will use video to explain suspensions.)
On Tuesday, Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president, hockey, who handles discipline told me via email: “When our meetings conclude (Wednesday), we will advise our position on this matter.”
Since the start of the preseason, Doerksen has doled out suspensions totalling 72 games to 21 players. F Joshua Smith of the Prince George Cougars will be suspended this week for a kneeing major and game misconduct he took Monday in Moose Jaw.
The OHL handed out two 10-game suspensions on Tuesday, hitting D Kyle Hope of the Oshawa Generals and F Josh Shalla of the Saginaw Spirit, both for penalties incurred in games on Friday.
Hope took a charging major and game misconduct, while Shalla took a major and game misconduct for a hit to the head.
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