The Memorial Cup tournament has been more than just determining the best major junior hockey team in Canada. It has been a showcase of the players on the four remaining teams and the cities who they play for.
The Canadian Hockey League has made the annual championship tournament into a hockey fan’s experience. If someone were to come in and did not know anything about hockey, they would have thought this was the Super Bowl. The tournament has become a marketing tool for the host city and those of the participating teams. The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack played in the Memorial Cup in 2011 in Mississauga. I spoke to a reporter who covers the team there and he told me that their appearance helped put Owen Sound — a city of over 22,000 located 2 1/2 hours northwest of Toronto — on the map and brought it more attention from people all over Canada.
London is hosting the 2014 edition. They last hosted the tournament in 2005. It was there that they won their only Memorial Cup championship. That Knights team featured future Stanley Cup winners in Corey Perry and Dave Bolland. It also had current NHLers Dan Girardi and Brandon Prust. The 3 other teams in that tournament also had some notable players. Kelowna had Shea Weber and Blake Comeau, Brian Bickell played for Ottawa, and Rimouski had some kid on their team named Sidney Crosby. Last year in Saskatoon, the tournament featured draft-eligible players Nathan McKinnon (Halifax), Seth Jones (Portland), Bo Horvat (London), and Max Domi (London). All were taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft that year.
This year’s tournament will have the likes of Matt Finn and Robbi Fabbri of Guelph, Edmonton’s Griffin Reinhart and Curtis Lazar, and Nick Aube-Kubel and Anthony Mantha of Val d’Or. Watch for these players and others to one day play in the NHL.