|Left-to-Right: Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon), Gilles Bouchard (Rouyn-Noranda),|
Dale Hunter (London) and Brent Sutter (Red Deer) at the Coaches' Media
event on Wednesday night.
All acknowledged the difficulty of this tournament, especially with three league champions and what should be a strong host team.
For his part, Red Deer GM/Coach Brent Sutter played his ‘underdog card’ at the event.
“We know that they’re the champions of the leagues play in so we certainly have our hands full here and, to be quite honest, we’re sitting up here as the loser right now,” said Sutter, “We’re excited for the challenge, we feel we have a good team and we feel we can compete.”
Wheat Kings’ GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon joked about Sutter pulling out the ‘underdog card’ right off the bat.
He also re-iterated what he had talked about earlier in the week in regards to the different nature of the tournament as compared to a playoff series.
“There are a few things about the tournament format that make it different. First, you don’t know your opponent so you have to try and get a handle on that,” said McCrimmon, “It’s not a series format, which is what we all know as well. You can’t overanalyze it, it’s still hockey, and you have to still be able to play.”
London GM/Coach Dale Hunter is leading the Knights into their fourth Memorial Cup in the last five years with London’s three previous trips having resulted in runner-up, third and fourth-place finishes.
He was asked what might be a little different in 2016.
“Every year is different, that’s the way you have to look at it. You go into the Cup hoping to win, but it’s a battle. There’s three good teams and that’s what it’s all about,” said Hunter, “We got beat but as long as the kids give it their best and worked their tails off but the competition is very good...it’s hard to win.”
The QMJHL Champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies finished the regular season on top of the Canadian Hockey League’s Top-10 rankings after doing 54-9-3-2 in the regular season, and followed that up by winning 16 of 20 playoff games.
Huskies’ GM/Coach Gilles Bouchard says that #1 rankings means little right now.
“I think, for me, we are four good teams here,” said Bouchard, “The best team at this moment will win this tournament.”
London, Rouyn-Noranda and Brandon all arrived in Red Deer on Wednesday.
All four teams will get a chance to practice at the Centrium on Thursday, while other highlights Thursday include the Memorial Cup arrival ceremony in downtown Red Deer and the opening reception on Thursday evening.