January 2, 2012
World Juniors on verge of new profit high
By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Those lucky souls holding winning 50/50 tickets aren’t the only ones lining their pockets during this year’s world junior hockey championship.
Hockey Canada is also poised to cash in with a record haul for the tournament, expected to almost triple the $7-million profit originally guaranteed by the host committee.
A Hockey Canada official told QMI Agency that due largely to the record attendance that saw both of Alberta’s NHL rinks sold out for every game, the event is now projected to net upwards of $18 million with a chance to surpass $20 million.
The previous record was set two years ago in Saskatoon/Regina, where organizers made just over $16 million, edging the 2009 tourney in Ottawa, where $15.8 million was made.
The tourney has come a long way in Canada of late as the fourth- and fifth-most profitable tourneys were in Vancouver in 2006 ($9.6 million) and Halifax in 2003 ($3.6 million). The 1999 edition in Winnipeg raised $1.9 million.
Of the total take this year, Hockey Canada gets 50%, which goes to recruitment and retention initiatives, e-learning programs and an upgrade to the online registration system used by every minor hockey association.
The Canadian Hockey League gets 35%, which goes to its scholarship programs and education initiatives.
Hockey Alberta gets 10%, which will go towards hiring regional development staff across Alberta as well as a training centre being developed at Red Deer College.
Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if Dan Blackburn’s appearance with the Rangers in the outdoor alumni game will spark a trend of goalies wearing two blockers.
AROUND THE HORN
This from a Vancouver Canucks executive getting tired of all the trade rumours involving backup goaltender Cory Schneider: “We’re not trading him. It’s not going to happen.” Fact is, there’s no rush or pressure to deal the 25-year-old as he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. It’s clear from Roberto Luongo’s unpredictable play this season and last spring that if the Canucks are to vie for the Stanley Cup, they’ll need Schneider to be part of it despite the fact he could land some heavy returns via the trade market … A month ago, there was concern Mark Giordano’s hamstring injury could be season ending, but a Flames official said Saturday the defenceman is progressing well and will be back “sooner rather than later” … Sean Avery’s agent Pat Morris has been given permission to try finding his client a job in the Kontinental Hockey League, but given Avery’s big heart, he may not find a fit: “Each team is allowed five imports, and Sean doesn’t want to take anyone’s job away from them,” Morris said. The agent also said a few teams were interested in acquiring Avery — including Florida — but there wasn’t a fit given a salary hit of $2 million that isn’t befitting a third- or fourth-liner.
While it’s likely next year’s Winter Classic will be in Detroit, NHL COO John Collins didn’t tip his hand nor sound convinced such a decision would involve having the game played in Ann Arbour’s Big House at the University of Michigan where 110,000 could attend. Instead, it seems he and the Wings are leaning towards a downtown celebration that would see the game at Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, which is owned by Wings owner Mike Ilitch. Collins did say he toured four venues in New York, including Citi Field (Mets), Met Life Stadium (Giants/Jets), the Yale Bowl (Yale football) and Michie Stadium (West Point Military Academy). Yankee Stadium isn’t an option due to the ever-popular Pinstripe Bowl held there until 2013. Washington will host one in a year or two. Collins said it’s impossible to suggest there will be an annual Canadian Heritage Classic as they’d quickly run out of venues. BMO Field in Toronto or McGill Stadium in Montreal lack sex appeal, and the NHL Players’ Association would likely have issues with the climate in Winnipeg. Does he envision having two or three outdoor games a year? “We’re not there yet, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.”