Knights prepare to bid for '08 Cup

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

The London Knights are going for the Cup -- again.

The Knights will officially announce this morning they're bidding for the 2008 Memorial Cup tournament, when it returns to an Ontario Hockey League city.

Knights management would not comment yesterday, but sources believe a combination of fan support, quality of team, quality of building and a proven ability to hold the event gives the team a chance at holding it in successive turns for the OHL.

The Knights held it in 2005 at the John Labatt Centre and defeated the Rimouski Oceanic in the final. It was the first time in the Knights' 40-year history that they were in the Memorial Cup.

Knights general manager Mark Hunter said before Christmas they were "seriously looking at making a bid." The Portland Winter Hawks is the only team to get the tournament on successive turns in 1983 and 1986, when it was the Western Hockey League's turn to play host.

The Knights will have stiff competition from several OHL cities, including Oshawa, which has a new arena.

But the Knights realize the importance of the 2005 event to this city and the continued large turnout of fans make London an attractive location.

The Memorial Cup alternates between the three major junior leagues. It was in Moncton (the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) last May and this year it's in Vancouver (the WHL).

Bids must be submitted to the OHL by Feb. 1. The three-member site selection committee will then announce a short list by early March and formal presentations will be made in April.

The winning bid will be announced in early May.

The Knights' bid that won them the 2005 event cost between $50,000 and $100,000 to put together.

The experience the organization gained during that process will go a long way toward helping the Knights this time around.

The Knights currently lead the Western Conference and quality of team is a key component to the bid.

The Knights have two of the top-ranked National Hockey League prospects for this year's draft in forwards Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane, rated third and fourth respectively by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

Both will likely be back with the Knights next season.

The Knights will also have Steve Mason in net, one of five goalies to attend the Canadian junior team's selection camp.


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