The four-team Memorial Cup tournament is headed to an American city for the first time since 1998.
The CHL announced on Wednesday that the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit will be the host team for the 2024 Memorial Cup. This will be the fifth time the tournament has been played in an American city, but the first since 1998 when it was decided in Spokane. It also has twice been held in Portland (1983, 1986) and once in Seattle (1992).
The Spirit plays in the Dow Event Center that seats 5,527 for hockey.
The Kingston Frontenacs, Niagara IceDogs and Soo Greyhounds — all of whom missed the playoffs this season — also entered bids on the 2024 tournament.
The Spirit has been in the OHL since 2002 but has yet to win a championship. This season, the Spirit was 36-27-5 and will meet the Flint Firebirds in the first round of playoffs starting on Friday.
From a CHL news release: “On the ice, the Spirit are highlighted by exceptional status forward Michael Misa, whose 56 points (22G, 34A) this season were the most by an OHL rookie. The first pick of the 2022 OHL (draft) also averaged 1.24 points-per-game this season — the highest of any OHL exceptional status player and ahead of John Tavares’ 1.18 points-per-game average with the Oshawa Generals in 2005-06.”
Here’s Jamie Tozer of the Station Nation blog:
“This is a bit of a bold move by the CHL, awarding the tournament to Saginaw over traditional (and historic) junior hockey markets Kingston and the Soo. But as we saw with Connor Bedard, the CHL is clearly putting a focus on promoting its stars. Misa will likely become the most talked about junior player when Bedard departs this summer, and awarding Saginaw the hosting rights guarantees the biggest spotlight for its biggest player. Whether you agree with that or not, the CHL is in a place right now where it needs to start making some bold moves — especially with the Memorial Cup.”
The 2023 Memorial Cup tournament is to be played in Kamloops, from May 25 through June 4.
After Kamloops, the WHL next will be the host league in 2026. Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, already has indicated that his organization is interested in putting together a bid, assuming some upgrades are made to Prospera Place. And now, after Saginaw being named host city, you have to think that the wheels are turning in Everett, Portland, Seattle and Spokane.
Meanwhile, in Kamloops, city council has turned down a request for $200,000 in late funding for the 2023 Memorial Cup, choosing instead to cough up a maximum of 100 grand.
The request came from tournament organizers with the money to be used for what Kamloops This Week said is “a pre-designed elevated platform to be situated on the east side of Sandman Centre, creating private suite spaces for Canadian Hockey League officials, sponsors, and broadcast and media partners. It would also create individual team executive spaces, as well as space for the TSN broadcast centre.”
Before this request arrived, the City of Kamloops already was on the hook for $940,000, most of which is going into upgrades to the arena.
Organizers now are looking to find the extra money needed for the installation of this platform.
The WHL held its draft lottery on Wednesday in Calgary, with the Prince Albert Raiders emerging as the big winners.
The Raiders moved from fourth to second — the six teams in the lottery could move up a maximum of two spots — and now hold the first two selections for the 2023 WHL draft. The Raiders got the first pick from the Edmonton Oil Kings in a swap that had D Kaiden Guhle move west last season.
The Winnipeg Ice had the first two selections in the 2019 draft and came out of it with two ace forwards — Matt Savoie and Conor Geekie.
The Raiders also own the seventh selection, a pick that originated with the Kelowna Rockets.
The Spokane Chiefs hold the third selection, followed, in order, by the Victoria Royals, Brandon Wheat Kings and Vancouver Giants. The Giants acquired that selection from the Swift Current Broncos.
The Raiders, as mentioned, will pick seventh, followed by Vancouver, the Medicine Hat Tigers, Everett Silvertips, Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton (from the Regina Pats), Tri-City Americans, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince George Cougars, Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Red Deer Rebels, Brandon Wheat Kings (from the Saskatoon Blades), Everett (from the Kamloops Blazers), Saskatoon (from the Seattle Thunderbirds) and Spokane (from Winnipeg).
The draft is scheduled for May 11.
On Wednesday morning, Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted: “OHL Commissioner David Branch confirms league hired an investigator to probe allegations that several hockey parents paid for their sons to be selected in 2022 OHL draft.
“Three GTHL coaches have told me they have evidence (txt msgs) of parents paying $30K+.”
Attached to that was this statement from Branch:
“Last year we conducted an independent third-party investigation into the allegations that you mention and could find no evidence of any team tampering with the draft nor teams acting in a manner prejudicial of the League . . . I would that . . . the people you have spoken to please provide it to the League and we will review it an determine if further investigation is required.”
Westhead added: “Branch did not respond to questions about who was hired to scrutinize claims that parents were paying for their sons to be drafted, the scope of the OHL’s investigation and how long it lasted, or how much the OHL paid its investigator.”
And then came the comments . . . oh my goodness, the comments . . .
Former NHLer Marc Methot, who is a TSN analyst: “That’s the GTHL in a nutshell. Lots of crazy rich parents living vicariously thru their children.”
From an account labelled ‘dynasty worrier’ (@luis-saladbar): “So they pay for the kid to be drafted but then what? Doesn’t he still have to be good enough to be on the team? What’s the end goal here? Just buy an OHL jersey with their name on it at the team shop and save 29.9k.”
From Marvin Matthews (@krimar): “This is hockey’s version of the Felicity Huggman/Lori Loughlin debacle.”
From Europe71 (@Europe711): “This has been going on for ever. Not about the talent but how much money parents are willing to pay. It’s about the status. My kid got drafted to OHL. It opens up a lot off doors even if the kid doesn’t make the actual team. Sad. Not surprised what so ever.”
From Thane MacEachern (@of_the_Island): “Sounds like the CHL needs a certified player association, and collective agreement. It’s a for profit business, the kids are employees, only certain people profit. Don’t get me started on this bogus ‘education fund,’ it’s just another line on the corporate balance sheet.”
From jeff (@IH_HamiltonEast): “In related news, the sky is blue and water is wet.”
And the comments go on and on and on . . . but I’m sure you get the idea.
ICYMI, the Flin Flon Bombers beat the visiting Estevan Bruins, 2-1 in OT, in Game 7 of their first-round SJHL playoff series on Tuesday night. F Cole Duperreault won it with a PP goal at 1:35 of the first OT period. His dump-in from the neutral zone bounced off a stanchion on the right-side glass and somehow got past Estevan G Cam Hrdlicka. F Kade Runke had given Estevan a 1-0 lead at 10:58 of the second period, with F Ethan Mercer equalizing, on a PP, at 12:28. . . . Attendance was announced at 1,005, so you know the Whitney Forum’s ghosts were dancing. . . . The Bombers will meet up with the Humboldt Broncos in Round 2. They will start with games in Humboldt on Friday and Saturday. . . .
The Sask Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and the NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush, now owns the Saskatoon Baseball Club, an as-yet unnamed team that will begin play in the Western Canada Baseball League in 2024. . . . SEG is owned by Mike Priestner and his son, Colin, who is the Blades’ president and general manager. . . . Steve Hildebrand, who is the Blades’ associate GM, is president of the Saskatoon Baseball Club. . . . It will play in the East Division with the Medicine Hat Mavericks, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers. Saskatoon will play out of 2,200-seat Cairns Field. . . .
F Matthew Seminoff of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. He was a sixth-round selection in the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Seminoff, who turned 19 on Dec. 27, finished this season with 82 points, including 31 goals, in 62 games. That included an eight-point game — four goals, four assists — on March 15 as the Blazers beat the visiting Victoria Royals, 11-1. . . . In 196 career regular-season games, he has 73 goals and 97 assists. . . . Seminoff was born in Leesburg, Va., and raised in Vancouver. . . .
The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have signed Cam Keith, their general manager and head coach, to a five-year contract. Keith, 42, joined the Eagles on May 29, 2019, as associate GM and head coach. Two years later, the Eagles signed him to a three-year extension that was to run through the 2023-24 season. . . . This season, the Eagles finished 35-16-3, good for second spot in the Coastal Division. They will open a first-round playoff series against the Powell River Kings in Surrey on Friday.
My wife, Dorothy, will be taking part in the 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 4 and, for a 10th straight year, is fund-raising. In September, she will celebrate 10 years as a transplant recipient. . . . If you would like to make a donation and be part of Team Dorothy, you may do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.