The most important player in any bid from Edmonton for the world junior hockey championship is definitely on board.
"For sure," said Oilers president Patrick LaForge yesterday. "We think it's a good idea and it's good business for Edmonton.
"It doesn't make a lot of money, but Edmonton is a hockey city and that is the best hockey in the world at that level. It's something we want to do for the citizens of Edmonton and once in my lifetime I want to make it happen."
The International Ice Hockey Federation announced over the weekend that Canada secured hosting rights to the world juniors every three years, with the 2009 and 2012 tournaments the next up for grabs. The Oilers and Northlands tried to make it happen for 2006, but a late start on the bidding process played a role in a losing effort. In the end, Vancouver captured the decision and organizers there recently announced that the tournament is already a sellout.
"It is imperative that we have the Oilers involved," said Northlands' venue manager Duane Vienneau, who wouldn't spill any info what differences would be made to the bid this time around. "Last time, every city that bid held a press conference and told everyone what they were willing to do.
"We're not going to do that because we don't want to lose any competitive advantage."
A proposal for the 2009 tournament would likely have to be filed by next summer.
"We've been talking about it for quite a while and we want to work together," said LaForge of the Oilers-Northlands connection.
LaForge, who was a guest yesterday at the official signing ceremony for Yellowknife's hosting role of the 2008 Arctic Winter Games, has been diligently trying to lure a Western Hockey League to make a home here. While that still might happen in time for the 2006-07 season, it won't have any bearing on a world juniors bid.
"We've been told matter-of-factly that you don't have to have a junior club to be a bidder, but we know from our own intelligence that it would help," said LaForge.