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The team and city that many expected to play host to the 2011 Memorial Cup will indeed do so. The Greater Toronto Area will take centre stage next May....
The Ontario Hockey League has called a press conference for Monday where the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors will be awarded the 2011 Memorial Cup. The Majors won out in a bidding process that also involved the Windsor Spitfires, Kingston Frontenacs and Barrie Colts. It will be the first time junior hockey's marquee event has been held in an OHL Eastern Conference city since the 1999 tournament, hosted by the Ottawa 67's.
The biggest factor involved in determining the winning city is believed to be the returning team. This is where Mississauga and Windsor were virtually neck-and-neck in the eyes of many. While the Majors do not have the household names of Windsor, they have demonstrated success on the ice, advancing to the Eastern Conference Final this year. The Majors are a little bit more predictable considering Cameron Gaunce is the only player outside of the team's overagers that is unlikely to return. Now that the Majors will be hosting the event, it will be interesting to see if the Colorado Avalanche will considering returning Gaunce to junior.
During the bid presentation, Majors Owner Eugene Melynk said his Memorial Cup committee would draw on the experience of the staff of the Ottawa Senators, which he also owns, along with the group responsible for the 2009 World Junior Championship in Ottawa - which set attendance records.
Many will question the lack of support the Majors receive, both at the box office and community spirit. There is no sugar-coating that. The Hershey Centre has had more empty seats than seats filled, whether the Majors or the IceDogs were the main tenant. But Mississauga's location should see fans drawn in from many of the other OHL teams that are a short drive away. Just like any other bid, Melnyk and the Majors would have to make a financial guarantee to the selection committee.
The Majors brass will now attend the upcoming Memorial Cup in Brandon to help them prepare for next year's event.
This could do wonders for the OHL in the GTA.
Even Kelowna, which had more season ticket holders than packages available, still had face-value tickets available on gamedays.
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