Gaglardi weighs in on Kamloops Blazers' hopes to host 2023 Memorial Cup, talks Kelowna Rockets

Gaglardi says Kelowna Rockets must ice competitive team

Kamloops Blazers’ majority owner Tom Gaglardi said his organization aspires to host the 2023 Memorial Cup, the national junior hockey championship.

“I’d like to think our team is going to be in a position competitively that we take it seriously and I would hope that the city, the community and the community leaders who are part of the whole process, starting with Norm Daley, will be ready to go again. That would be my hope,” Gaglardi said.

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The Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes made Memorial Cup bids in front of the Western Hockey League board of governors in Calgary in October 2018.

Kelowna won the bid.

“As it turned out, you won nothing, obviously, with the pandemic cancelling the Memorial Cup,” Gaglardi said on Monday (May 17) in an interview that can be seen here.

Gaglardi was asked for his thoughts on Kelowna being awarded the 2023 Memorial Cup because the 2020 event was pre-empted by the pandemic.

“If that’s the right thing to do, then that could be the right thing to do,” he said. “I haven’t been involved in any formal conversation around that, but if that happens, we’ll deal with it as it comes. Just because you have the market size and ability financially to host a Memorial Cup, I don’t think is enough, so if Kelowna is going to want the Cup again in 2023, they’re going to need to have a competitive team, and so we’ll see if they do.”

Gaglardi was outspoken in his disapproval of the vote in 2020.

“Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours,” he told KTW in February of 2020, with the Blazers nearly 20 points ahead of the Rockets in B.C. Division standings. “It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. It’s the 25th anniversary [of the Blazers’ most recent Memorial Cup win, which took place in 1995 in Kamloops], we were judged to have probably the best team of the host bids and it was our turn. We put together a heck of an offer and we didn’t win. Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.”

City of Kelowna sport and events services manager Doug Nicholas spoke to Kelowna city council during a presentation last summer on finances surrounding the lost event in 2020, according to okanaganedge.net.

“Discussions are already underway regarding the possibility of Kelowna getting their opportunity to host the Memorial Cup,” Nicholas said. “Preliminary discussions have been positive to date with the WHL and the CHL.”

Nicholas noted the Rockets have time to build a contender and mentioned team owner Bruce Hamilton has committed to a 10th two-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the WHL.

“That’s a significant piece of this puzzle moving forward,” Nicholas said. “For those reasons, we are optimistic about the 2023 opportunity to host.”

Gaglardi expects discussions will heat up in the fall.

“It takes a good year of planning,” Gaglardi said. “Hopefully, we’ve got fans back and we can start having really happy conversations around hockey and, if the will is there, then it will be a competition to win the Memorial Cup for 2023. I think we would get going in 2022 some time.”

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