By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
And then there were three.
With the hosting of the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Cup being offered to all 60 Canadian Hockey League teams, the Oshawa Generals’ willingness to host the tournament could have been seen as a steep hill to climb. However, according to sources, that list has now been narrowed down to three possible host teams who have submitted bids: the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Regina Pats and the Oshawa Generals.
“That’s what we’ve been told,” says Rocco Tullio, owner of the Oshawa Generals, adding he was a little bit shocked by the lack of possible bids being put forward by CHL teams.
However, Tullio speculates that with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) hosting the tournament the following year in 2019 and many western league teams eyeing the hosting of the World Junior Championships, hockey resources can only stretch so far.
“Obviously, you can only put your eggs in one basket,” Tullio says.
For the Generals, that basket is the Memorial Cup in 2018 and Tullio says the club, organization and fans have all earned it.
“We haven’t hosted one here in a very long time,” he says. “I think we’ve demonstrated over the years that we do things right with hosting main events.”
In the past, the team has played host to big events in the hockey world including a World Junior Championships pre-tournament game and a Subway Super Series game, pitting Canada’s top junior players against their Russian counterparts, in 2013.
“I think we deserve it. I think we’ve earned it over the years and through our reputation of how we do things on and off the ice,” Tullio says. “Most important, I think our fans have demonstrated in Quebec how they support us.
“I think all of those things are important factors and hopefully the Canadian Hockey League recognizes that.”
The team’s bid also got a boost from the installation of a new jumbotron prior to the start of the season, following months of wrangling with the City of Oshawa to fund the new system. However, some disappointment followed when the city came back with only $200,000 of in-kind services to support the bid when the Generals were seeking around $2 million.
“The bid support, financially, wasn’t what we were expecting, but that’s OK. It is what it is,” Tullio says. “The city also has other expenses and other bills that they have to take care of and we’re respectful of that, which means that we have to go to other coffers.”
However, Tullio says the team isn’t too focused on the financials at the moment, more focused on securing the host position before really digging in.
“We’re in a good spot, and I’m not too, too concerned about the financial component of it, right now. I just want to focus our time on getting this bid and and once we get it, then the real heavy lifting starts,” he says.
Currently, teams have been allowed a little extra time to provide support materials for their bid packages before the deadline closes for submissions. A final selection is expected to be made in early 2017.