By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The day has arrived.
After nearly a year of planning and preparing, it all comes down to this as the Oshawa Generals give their bid presentation to the selection committee in Toronto on Jan. 25, providing their reasons for why they should host the 100th Memorial Cup in 2018.
The Oshawa Generals are among a shortlist of three teams that includes fellow Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team Hamilton Bulldogs and the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, who will also be giving presentations. The last time the Gens hosted the tournament was in 1987.
“I think all three communities, all three organizations and all three bids will certainly have credence to be there on that day and certainly we can’t compare ourselves to what they’ve got and what they don’t have,” says Generals GM Roger Hunt. “I think the biggest thing there is, whomever gets it, it’s a pretty special thing to host this.”
For the team’s bid, Hunt explains there will be a myriad of factors the organization will be highlighting for the selection committee including the venue, fan base and proximity to Toronto. Hunt says they also plan to highlight the local history and the Ontario Regiment, which turned 150 years old in 2016. This could be a significant factor if the selection committee wishes to focus on military history and the roots of the Memorial Cup, which was created in 1919 in remembrance of the soliders who died in the First World War. In 2010, the cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian soldiers.
The fan participation will also be a big factor and bolstered by the support the Generals saw in Quebec City, where they eventually won the Memorial Cup in 2015. The victory marked the team’s fifth Memorial Cup, the most of any active team in the Canadian Hockey League.
“Basically, we’re going to throw everything at them that we’ve got to let them know that Oshawa will be able to host the 100th Memorial Cup and maybe it’s the biggest and best. That’s certainly what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Hunt says.
The recent moves at the OHL trade deadline also highlight the organization’s dedication to putting together a strong team for 2018 after trading away captain Anthony Cirelli and star defencemen Mitch Vande Sompel in exchange for a collection of draft picks and young talent.
“We feel confident about our bid, but it will be in the hands of the selection committee, but we’re going to do everything we can to give them the number one option as Oshawa,” Hunt says.
On Jan. 23, the CHL announced the details of the selection committee, which is made up of industry leaders from across Canada including Paul Beeston, the former president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays; Colin Campbell, the senior executive vice president of hockey operations for the NHL; Scott Moore, the president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties; and Scott Smith, the chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. CHL league commissioners and the CHL’s legal counsel will serve as site selection committee chairman.
Fans will not have long to wait though as according to an earlier release from the CHL, the committee is expected to make the announcement of the host city in the first week of February.