Media horde to follow Knights, 67's

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

London is now legitimate.

We are about to be discovered by the Toronto media.

And no, they won't fall off the end of the earth en route to the Forest City tonight.

It seems that all these years, the "national" media may not have been able to see the trees because of the Leafs.

Well, perhaps not at this time of the year.

But they're coming -- print and electronic -- for Game 1 of the OHL final between the Knights and Ottawa 67's at the John Labatt Centre.

Aaron Bell, the OHL's director of information and special events, said yesterday 35 media accreditations have been issued for the championship series.

Bell said some are for locally based media members who won't be travelling to the other city. He expects the travelling media corps to be about 15, with a dozen coming from Toronto.

"That is a lot," Bell said of the interest in the series, even though the Knights and 67's are already in the Memorial Cup May 21-29 at the JLC.

"London and Ottawa are two of our major media centres but there's also just so much interest in the Knights and the season they've had."

Bell also said the lack of an NHL season is a reason for the increase in Toronto media attention to the OHL final and Memorial Cup.

He doubles as director of information for the Canadian Hockey League and said he has received 260 requests for Memorial Cup accreditation.

Most years it's around 150.

"There are a few factors," he explained. "The location makes it very easy for the Toronto media to attend. And with no NHL, we've got people coming who would normally be following the Stanley Cup.

"You've again got the story the Knights have been all year -- and of course, the unknown is Sidney Crosby."

The 17-year-old Crosby, heralded as the next Wayne Gretzky, and his Rimouski Oceanic may emerge as the Quebec league's representative in the Cup.

The opener pits the Knights against the Quebec champion.

"Our big problem is where do we put everybody?" Bell said of the already cramped JLC press box.

"We already have more applications than the number of seats we'll have," and that includes an overflow media area for the OHL final and two overflow areas for the Memorial Cup.

Bell said some media will have to do their work during the Memorial Cup in a tent in the west parking lot.

"Unfortunately for some, that's where their seats will be," Bell said.

"We knew from Day 1 we were expecting a large media response, but the host committee has done so much to make sure a suitable media centre is available."


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