IIHF boss speaks

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Refereeing could be much the same at the 2006 Turin Olympic Winter Games as it has been at the world junior, says Rene Fasel.

Bad early.

Good late.

"We know of the challenge. In the beginning in Turin there will be the same challenge. We hope not. But we will have it."

Fasel, the IIHF president, said the concept will be to try to give the 158 NHL players involved referees calling a game very close to the one they've been playing all year - with the new rules .

'IN THE BEGINNING ...'

"In the beginning there will be some differences but after a couple of games For Vancouver 2010, Fasel says he hopes a deal will be worked out so European officials can work a few NHL games prior to the Olympic tournament.

Four NHL referees (and four NHL linesmen) will be part of the Olympic officiating team of 10 referees.

Fasel, who is on the IOC site inspection and organization monitoring committee for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, says he's amazed by the success of the Vancouver world junior which ends here today with bronze and gold medal games.

Fasel said it will be difficult to match this success.

"I'm really amazed at 269,510 attendance so far," he said of breaking the record of 242,000 in Halifax three years ago, not including the games to determine ninth, seventh and fifth and today's bronze and gold medal games.

"For junior hockey players, playing in front of 18,600 in G.M. Place? What do you need more? Big attendance on TV. I'm very pleased.

"Can you imagine 2010? All the tickets will be sold in 15 minutes. Ten minutes. Gone!"

Fasel was asked if he is amazed enough with the success of this tournament to start thinking about playing the world junior in Canada every two years instead of every three years.

"Every two?" he said.

"Good question," said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson.

"Every year maybe," laughed Fasel.

"Good answer," said Nicholson.

"I think we should check into it," said Frank Gonzalez, the head of the IIHF junior committee.

"I love that comment," said Nicholson.

"It's so important for the players. The first priority is for the players."

This will be the last World Junior involving more than two arenas. Next year it will be held in two towns in North Central Sweden - Mora and Leksand - where the arenas seat fewer than 4,000 and capacity crowds aren't expected.

JUNIOR BACK IN 2009

The next world junior in Canada will be 2009. Bids are expected from 10 to 12 Canadian cities including all the NHL centres. Bid committees met here yesterday to see the setup, discover the details and get an understanding of what they'll need to include to have a chance of playing host to the event.


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