Ottawa might not be able to beat Toronto in the NHL playoffs but it was able to trump its intense hockey rival in the minds of Hockey Canada.
A number of factors went in favour of Ottawa as yesterday it was awarded the 2009 world junior championship over bids from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., Montreal, Edmonton/Calgary and Saskatoon/Regina.
Included in those was Ottawa's commitment to grassroots hockey and the fact the OHL's 67's have major support in the nation's capital.
"We're very disappointed," MLSEL executive Bob Hunter said. "We thought we had a pretty good shot. Ottawa will do a great job."
And there's the money factor as well. In its bid, Ottawa guaranteed what would be a record profit of $12.5 million, while Toronto was believed to have guaranteed an amount in the range of $7 million to $8 million. The profit from this past winter's tourney in Vancouver was around $9 million.
Money issue aside, it seems clear Toronto's bid was hurt by the lack of support for major junior hockey in the market. The St. Michael's Majors, Mississauga IceDogs and Brampton Battalion aren't exactly thriving at the gate. And the notion Toronto is not a hockey town so much as it is a Maple Leafs town could not have helped. Hunter acknowledged MLSEL could have involved the junior clubs in the area in the bid process more.
"We really liked the plan from the Ottawa Senators (and owner Eugene Melnyk) right down to the grassroots," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "There was a real connect on the hockey side. Overall, the business plan was a step ahead of the other bids.
"There was some concern whether (the world junior in Toronto) could be delivered to the grassroots side. But Idon't think that was the deciding point."
Nicholson said Toronto should "definitely"re-bid for the next world junior in Canada in 2012. Had Toronto won this time, games would have been at the Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum.
Hunter said he was not sure whether MLSEL would bid for the 2012 tournament.