It's a tale of two cities

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

EDMONGARY -- Can this work?

Can Edmonton and Calgary co-host the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship?

Who would get the medal-round games?

Who would get the Canada games?

"We may have to borrow the loonie which was buried in the ice at the Salt Lake Olympics back from the Hockey Hall of Fame and flip it," said Lyle Best, the Edmonton entrepreneur who will head up the northern end of the bid.

The provincial rivals stunned a lot of people within the province by submitting a letter of intent to bid for the event together yesterday.

When Bob Nicholson of Hockey Canada seemed to casually mention last month at the World Junior that maybe Edmonton and Calgary might have to combine forces to win a bid after the success of Vancouver 2006, obviously somebody decided his comment wasn't meant to be take as casual.

A bid is expected today from Montreal and an even more feared bid from Toronto's Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

"To be able to beat out a Toronto bid, I think we needed to team up. I really do," said Edmonton Oilers CEO Patrick LaForge.

"Edmonton and Calgary together, I think that's real power. And I really do think both cities can figure out a way to make it fun and exciting to work together and make this a great event."

It's also a practical move for both the Oilers and the Flames to share the tournament, said LaForge.

SIX HOME GAMES

"Over Christmas, both our teams had six home games this year. It's tough for both clubs to lose those games at that time of year and be out of the building for 20 days," said Laforge.

By using the Pacific Coliseum for WJC round robin games, in addition to Kelowna and Kamloops, the Canucks remained at home during the tournament until the medal round began.

LaForge sees a scenario where one city would play host to the front end of the tournament and the other city would play host to the back end.

Best says he can see at situation where the Flames and Oilers would play each other in both buildings during the run of the tournament.

But Edmonton and Calgary working together like this?

"I think it's strange," said LaForge. "It's rare.

"But at the end of the day, I think both of us would be very happy to have played a part to do something which is a good thing for the province."

A COUPLE OF GAMES

LaForge said with Canada's coach Brent Sutter owning the Red Deer Rebels, maybe Hockey Canada could be convinced to give Red Deer a couple of games during the transition travel period down the highway.

"We're prepared to do whatever it takes to make it work," LaForge said.

Both Hockey Canada and the IIHF want a two-site tournament in the future.

But Edmonton and Calgary. Together?

It's the nature of the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry for there always to be a winner and a loser, whether it's football, hockey, airports or infrastructure.

Who gets the medal-round games, who gets the Canada games ...

"I'm sure we'll find a way to decide all that which both cities consider to be fair. I think it's great to have Edmonton and Calgary working together. I think it's fantastic. I think we have to do more of it," said Lyle Best, who will have Al Hamilton as his winger in Edmonton while Doug Mitchell and Jim Peplinski combine in Calgary.

"Lets win the bid and worry about all that other stuff later. Right now, there's a real will with both cities to find a way to do this. So far the egos are in check and nobody is saying anything like having the medal round is a deal-breaker," added Best.

Something tells me these guys will find a way to decide who gets the gold medal game which will allow both to profit.

Kind of an Alberta Advantage thing.

Maybe some sort of massive lottery. If the winner comes from Edmonton, the medal round goes there, if the winner is from Calgary, it goes there.

Whatever, there are two questions today.

Can it work?

Yes.

Can it win?

I think it probably already has.


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