Kamloops Blazers’ majority owner Tom Gaglardi said a new format is in place for bidding on the Memorial Cup — a behind-the-curtain, confidential process that is likely to produce a 2023 host city before this summer.
Gaglardi said he does not expect a vote among the WHL board of governors to be involved in the process. The decision, as he understands it, will be made at the Canadian Hockey League level.
“It’s better,” Gaglardi said. “It should be decided by people who are, you know … I just think it takes biases out and the real reasons a winning team should host have got a better chance of prevailing. I’m hopeful this is a good system and a better system, but that remains to be seen.”
KTW reached out to Kelowna Rockets’ owner Bruce Hamilton to ask if Kelowna will bid on the 2023 Memorial Cup.
“Thanks for the interest,” said Hamilton, the longest-serving chairman of the WHL board of governors, now in his 10th term in the position. “The CHL is who releases that info now.”
The Blazers, Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes made 2020 Memorial Cup bids in front of the WHL board of governors in Calgary in October 2018. The board voted in favour of Kelowna.
Kelowna, which had its 2020 party ruined by the pandemic, is expected to bid for the 2023 Memorial Cup.
Is Gaglardi concerned his team might be drawing dead, that the Rockets’ standing as pilfered incumbent will be too much to overcome if they do indeed bid?
“I don’t think anything is going to be handed. In Kelowna’s defence, they prepared to host a Memorial Cup and got it taken away from them,” Gaglardi said. “That cost them in terms of their hockey program. It cost them, I’m sure, financially. So, you do have to have sympathy for that.
“To the extent that it’s a key determining factor for 2022-23, I just don’t know. I really believe the best bid, the best situation, with the community, the facility, the theme, the people driving it, the quality of the hockey team — those are the key points and the best team and best city should win.”
Gaglardi refused to offer insight on which teams might be bidding and turned down the offer to analyze the Rockets’ hockey team.
“I’m not going to talk about anyone else’s team,” he said. “Teams aren’t really permitted to say anything. I don’t think it’s any secret we’re desirous of hosting the Memorial Cup.
“Our team will be full of NHL draft picks and I think we’ll be as good or deep as any team out there. We’ve got a lot of dry powder and a lot of prospects. The market has everything. We really do check all the boxes.”
Gaglardi was asked for his opinion on how talks have gone with WHL and CHL brass.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” he said. “The processes I’ve seen have been good and I’ll be interested to see how the new process ultimately works.”
Can he offer any more insight on the bid?
“No. I think I’ve said probably more than I’m supposed to be able to say,” Gaglardi said. “We’re certainly keen. We’re all in. If Blazers’ fans want to see the Memorial Cup back in Kamloops [for the first time since 1995], you’re in good hands, in terms of our side of the effort.”
KAMLOOPS LAST WEEK
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