Fasel, Nicholson address media

New attendance record hailed, future tourneys discussed

06.01.2009
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René Fasel and Bob Nicholson will work together to make future World Juniors succeed. Photo: IIHF/HHoF/Phil MacCallum

OTTAWA – After Monday's bronze medal game, IIHF President René Fasel and Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson held a joint press conference at Scotiabank Place.

Fasel expressed his excitement about the just-announced new tournament attendance record of 453,282.

“This number is really, really amazing,” said Fasel. “I would like to thank all the people, including the Ottawa Senators, owner Eugene Melnyk, the 1,500 volunteers and the hockey fans here in Ottawa, that have made this possible. Ottawa is a special place for hockey. People love the game.”

Nicholson said he appreciated Fasel's support for Hockey Canada in terms of using the Hockey Canada logo on the nation's jerseys at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, whether or not things turn out as the federation would prefer. Fasel is a member of the International Olympic Committee.

“We will make a decision one way or another on how to proceed within the next 60 days,” said Nicholson. “It'll be difficult for Vancouver,” added Fasel. “It's very political.”

Journalists wanted to know about the possibility of playing the tournament in Canada even more frequently, and Fasel said there was a chance of that happening, as long as the interests of the other national federations are recognized as well. Fasel recalled how he attended the World Juniors in Canada for the first time in 1986, and was amazed by the enthusiasm the fans in Hamilton and neighbouring towns showed.

“When you have players playing in front of 42 or 35 fans, it's very sad,” Fasel said of some under-attended World Junior games in Europe. “Here in Ottawa, they play in front of at least 9,000 fans, and it's a lifetime experience they never forget. This is a very special product, and we have to be careful with how we proceed. So-called 'home-ice advantage' is not always an advantage for Canada, because there is a lot of pressure.”

“I don't think we should have it here every year, but maybe every second or third year,” Nicholson added.

Nicholson said he expects to see new attendance records set in 2012 when Calgary and Edmonton host the IIHF World Junior Championship with two NHL arenas.

LUCAS AYKROYD
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