22 January 2007

Buffalo possible site host for 2010 WJCs???

In Sunday's Buffalo News Bucky Gleason writes that Buffalo is on the radar for the World Juniors three years from now:

Buffalo on the map in 2010 for World Junior tournament


It would be premature for fans to get excited now, but the World Junior Championships could be coming to a town near you. USA Hockey confirmed last week that Buffalo would be on the list of cities as possible sites for 2010 if the tournament is held in the United States.

The possibility of having the most prestigious junior tournament here has been rumored for weeks in Western New York and beyond. It appears the U.S. hockey governing body will take a serious look at Buffalo because it's a very good hockey community that borders Canada.

USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said last week that the International Ice Hockey Federation, which oversees the tournament, would first need to decide whether the 40-team tournament should shift to the United States in three or four years. That decision was expected during the world championships in late April and early May.

"I'm not surprised you've heard banter about the potential of the World Juniors coming to Buffalo," Fischer said by telephone last week. "Certainly, if we're able to secure the World Juniors from the IIHF, Buffalo would be in the running, but we're a long way from that happening."

USA Hockey called the Sabres, who immediately expressed interest in bringing the tournament to Buffalo. Managing partner Larry Quinn acknowledged any talk now would be preliminary. Still, Western New York has a way of rallying around events that become a focal point. It was held in Sweden this year.

"The next step would be putting together a good package and identifying potential locations across the U.S.," Fischer said. "Certainly, Buffalo is one that would be considered for many reasons, obviously [being] the great hockey community that it is and certainly its proximity to Canada."

The World Junior Championships have evolved into a 10-day festival in Canada. Games involving Canada are televised across the country. It received more local attention than usual this season because South Buffalo native Patrick Kane, expected to be a top five pick in the NHL draft, was among the best players in the tournament.

Grand Forks, N.D., was the last U.S. city to stage the World Junior Championships, which it did in 2005. They were mostly swallowed in Boston in 1996. Buffalo would seem a better fit. Detroit would be another good site for many of the same reasons.

One question about Buffalo would be where the games would be played. Obviously, HSBC Arena is capable of staging any hockey event. Several games would be suited for Rochester. Games of less interest could be moved to smaller venues, such as Niagara University, Buffalo State or perhaps Jamestown.

If the University at Buffalo had a Division I hockey program, as it should, there might already be an adequate arena in place. Yes, UB, that was a hint.

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