The Brandon Wheat Kings are taking a business-as-usual approach to what is sure to be a historic season.
Although the Wheat Kings are obviously excited about playing host to the best junior teams across the nation in the Memorial Cup for the first time in the 42-year history of the franchise, head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon isn't about to let his club be overwhelmed by the situation.
"At this point, we're just focusing on trying to build a good hockey team and get better week-to-week," said McCrimmon. "The Memorial Cup is not something we're talking about every day. We're working towards being a contending team, which is no different from any year you've got a good group returning."
That said, there is some additional buzz in the community surrounding the Wheat Kings this fall.
"The arrival of hockey season has really brought the interest level up a lot, it's different than any other year," McCrimmon said in a telephone interview yesterday. "There's more interest in training camp, more talk about our team and a lot more excitement in Brandon because of what a special opportunity it is for us."
"It's an exciting year with the Memorial Cup, everybody has that little extra intensity in them," added Wheat Kings second-year forward Mark Stone. "Definitely, we want to do it the right way. We don't want to be considered the host team. We want to be the WHL champions, of course. There's a little bit of pressure, but we're looking forward to the opportunity of being a good team and making a long playoff run."
Wheat Kings fans got some good news recently as 350 more Memorial Cup packages were made available.
"That will help us meet demand locally," said McCrimmon.
Westman Place will hold 5,102 for the Memorial Cup and all of the 3,302 packages made available locally to season-ticket holders were already scooped up as of last week.
The Canadian Hockey League still holds 1,450 tickets for its teams and sponsors, but some of those packages will likely be made available to the public at a later date.
The 2010 Memorial Cup runs from May 14 to 23.