'09 junior hopes at the four-front

TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

He's been turned down three times, but Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt feels good about Ottawa's bid for the 2009 world junior hockey championship.

The five bidders -- also including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary/Edmonton and Saskatoon/Regina -- made a presentation and answered questions from the selection committee yesterday in Calgary.

"There's no doubt this is our strongest bid in all respects," said Hunt, who got a big boost when he was joined by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who also owns the OHL's St. Michael's Majors. The Gatineau Olympiques, Kingston Frontenacs and Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli are also on board.

"Having Eugene really helps us show our commitment," said Hunt. "He's in a unique situation in that he owned a junior team before he owned an NHL team. He has a lot of credibility."

"This whole bid process has been a great experience for me personally," said Melnyk in an e-mail to the Sun last night. "It's given me an even deeper appreciation of how much hockey means to such a broad cross-section of the Ottawa community. I felt it was very important for us to bring a strong delegation to Calgary. I'm confident we gave Hockey Canada and the site selection committee a lot to ponder on why the nation's capital would be the perfect backdrop for hosting the World Juniors."

Hunt says it's in the committee's hands now. But he clearly believes the Ottawa bid is worthy of winning.

"I think it went really well for us ... but I'm sure the other bidders feel that way too," he said.

So did the Ottawa contingent feed off the fact that it's been blanked in its three previous bids?

"I don't think it would go over well if we went in there with a 'you owe us' approach. The first time we did this, each day seemed to crawl by, but we've made our bid ... there's nothing more we can do now."

Hunt expects the winning bid will be announced within 10-15 days. The selection committee includes Bob Nicholson, Scott Smith and Rene Marcil from Hockey Canada and CHL president Dave Branch.


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