JLC won't host Super Series

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

London has been shut out of hockey's eight-game Canada-Russia Super Series.

Hockey Canada has chosen to head west -- to Winnipeg (Sept. 4), Saskatoon (Sept. 5), Red Deer (Sept. 7) and Vancouver (Sept. 9) -- for all four home games after discussions with the John Labatt Centre broke down because the local facility found the event business plan to be too risky.

The under-20 series, designed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Paul Henderson's dramatic goal to win the Summit Series between the two countries, is expected to feature many of the top young guns in the sport.

London Knights forward Sam Gagner, Oshawa Generals scoring star John Tavares and top-ranked prospects Kyle Turris and Angelo Esposito are listed on Canada's final roster of 26 players.

"We talked to Hockey Canada and tried to approach it a couple of different ways (a guaranteed lump sum or a percentage of profits), but we just couldn't get the numbers to work and it was a financial risk for us," JLC general manager Brian Ohl said. "It's early September and it's not the best time of year for hockey and at the time, you don't know what players are going to be playing in this event."

With a capacity of 9,000 for hockey, the JLC would have had to charge the same top ticket price it does for NHL preseason game -- upwards of $70 -- to meet Hockey Canada's demands.

"We assumed a standard of 15,000 (arena seats)," said Scott Smith, Hockey Canada senior vice-president of business operations. "We put forward just one plan because we wanted to be fair to everyone. Our impression was that the John Labatt Centre is a busy place and that we just didn't fit in there at this time."

The 1972 Summit Series that ended up captivating Canadian puck fans crossed much of the country with games in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Smith felt the all-west games will help reduce travel for the teams, but it wasn't the deciding factor in where the games will be played.

"We looked at facilities across the country," he said. "Really, in a 15-month span, we have these four games in the west, the world hockey championships and its 56 games split between Halifax and Quebec City and the world juniors in Ottawa so we're represented in every region in the country."

The opening four games of the series will be played in Ufa and Omsk, Russia. The Canadian team coached by Brent Sutter includes four players selected in the first round of the 2006 NHL draft -- goalies Jonathan Bernier by Los Angeles and Leland Irving by Calgary, defenceman Ty Wishart by San Jose and forward Claude Giroux by Philadelphia.

The Russians will be coached by former NHL forward Sergei Nemchinov, who was assistant to Vyacheslav Bykov at the men's world championships in May. There was no word on when their roster will be announced.


Photos