Thursday, January 19, 2017
GENERALS FIGURE TO GIVE PATS STIFF COMPETITION
OSHAWA — The moment the Oshawa Generals have been waiting for will come at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25 in a hotel boardroom in Toronto.
Pretty much since winning the Memorial Cup themselves in 2015, the Generals have been gearing up for an attempt to host the junior national championship tournament, and on Jan. 25 they will put their best bid forward to Canadian Hockey League president David Branch and the selection committee.
Roger Hunt, vice president and general manager of the Generals, will be one of five delegates for the club making the presentation, and he says they are eager to get to it.
“It’ll be nerve-racking and exciting, but nevertheless it’s like Christmas Day, it’s coming,” Hunt said. “We’ll be ready, we’ll be prepared. It will take a heck of a bid to knock us off.”
With the 2018 tournament being the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Cup, the bid process was opened up to all 60 teams in the CHL, but only the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League rival Hamilton Bulldogs joined the Generals in expressing an interest.
Naturally, there are pros and cons involved with all three franchises, but Hunt believes the fit is right for Oshawa, which has won a CHL-high five Memorial Cups and hasn’t hosted the tournament since 1987.
“There are a lot of teams that have history, but it’s not always winning history,” said Hunt, pointing out the Generals have also won an OHL-best 13 provincial titles over the past 80 years. “We have a military representation here, and we feel good about that, a strong minor hockey organization throughout the region, in Oshawa, in Whitby, in Clarington. This will be big not only for the city of Oshawa, but it will bring a lot of attention to the whole region.”
It might be difficult to project how strong the team will be at this point next season, but Hunt is confident he can strengthen it again, as he did in 2015.
“I think we’ve positioned ourselves well with the core of the team here and also, with the additional draft picks, I think we have the wherewithal to be able to add to next year’s team,” he said.
The Pats are likely the front-runners where quality of team is concerned, currently ranked No. 1 in the country and expecting a strong core back. They are also steeped in history, and will celebrate their 100th anniversary at the same time as the Memorial Cup.
The Bulldogs are in only their second year in Hamilton and will probably be faced with the same type of questions on the ice as the Generals, but the FirstOntario Centre is nearly three times the capacity of the rinks in Oshawa and Regina, making for greater potential profits. Ironically, Hamilton hosted a record 17,383 for the 1990 Memorial Cup final, which was won by Oshawa.
Hunt says he can’t be concerned with the other teams’ bids, and is heading into the process brimming with confidence.
“I don’t think we have weaknesses,” he expressed. “I think if we were unsuccessful, it would be somebody else having to knock somebody’s socks off. I really feel confident. I don’t feel as though we have holes in our bid. I really feel good about everything from top to bottom.”