Bolland's a major player

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

All the world is a stage and at least one Londoner will be a major player.

Knights centre David Bolland is expected to land a leading role for Canada at the 2006 world junior hockey championship in Vancouver.

The rest of London, on the other hand, will likely have to buy a ticket in the balcony when the 2009 championship tournament is awarded to a Canadian city next May.

Bolland, who leads the Canadian Hockey League in scoring with 14 goals and 29 points in 10 games, will be at Canada's selection camp in Calgary in mid-December.

The rest -- in the words of Hockey Canada chief scout Blair Mackasey -- is up to Bolland.

"I like him on and off the ice and he's a guy who obviously fits into our plans. He's a guy we're going to be counting on," Mackasey said yesterday.

Read that to mean Bolland will be with the national junior squad unless he bombs at the camp, and the chances of that happening are slim.

He was oh so close to making the 2005 team as an 18-year-old.

"He certainly brings a lot of things to the table that interest us," Mackasey said.

Now that Hockey Canada has opened the bidding process for the 2009 championship, when it will again return to this country, it'll be interesting to see if cities the size of London can go to the table with enough to satisfy the national governing body.

It's doubtful, now that Vancouver has already raised the bar by guaranteeing a $5.2-million profit, with a projection that it may reach as high as $7 million with a record 400,000 fans expected.

All of Canada's games will be played in the 18,690-seat GM Place, home of the NHL's Canucks.

The previous record of 242,173 fans with a $3.6-million profit was set at the 2003 championship in Halifax. The Metro Centre seats 10,000 and now that's probably too small.

The Montreal Canadiens, who play in the 21,273-seat Bell Centre and the OHL's Ottawa 67's, who would partner with the Senators to play in the 20,000-seat Corel Centre, have announced they're bidding.

"The property has become worthy of NHL-size arenas," Canadiens president Pierre Boivin has said boldly.

Although there's no major junior team in Montreal, the Habs would make the tournament part of their 100th anniversary celebrations. "It makes perfect sense for Montreal to host the best young players around the world to kick off the centennial celebrations," Boivin said.

London was one of the cities that lost to Vancouver and Tourism London general manager John Winston said yesterday he'll have to do some serious number crunching before deciding to bid for 2009. "We'll have to look at the revenue very thoroughly to see if it makes sense to pursue it. Once Vancouver got it, it raised the stakes " he said.

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco was part of the 2006 London bid team, which guaranteed $4.6 million, based on the 9,000-seat John Labatt Centre.

"We're concerned with the guarantee and I don't know what more we could do to be successful," DeCicco said.

"I'm a strong proponent that if there's any way possible, we give it serious consideration, but I couldn't say today we will bid. If the guarantee gets too high, from a financial point of view that knocks out a lot of cities. I raised that issue (with Hockey Canada) at the end of the last process."

David Branch, CHL president and thus a member of Hockey Canada's site selection committee, said last January the Londons of this country should not be discouraged.

He spoke of the passion of junior hockey fans and said, "It's that passion that is represented in all forms, sizes and shapes of communities and we have a real sense of obligation that we can never lose sight of who we really are.

"Don't get discouraged. We have our sense of responsibility to ensure we do not remove this event from the majority of centres that really are our fans."

DeCicco and others should remind Branch of his words.


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