Soo Greyhounds have a better chance of being in the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament than they do of winning next spring’s Ontario Hockey League championship. To be sure, the Greyhounds have to beat out only one team — the Oshawa Generals — to gain automatic entry into the 2021 national championship event.
It is the OHL’s turn to be the host league for the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament. And only two teams — the Soo and Oshawa — have opted to bid on being the host entry, which to the victor will include automatic entry into the annual Canadian Hockey League championship classic.
As it stands now — with neither team having made a formal presentation to the CHL’s Memorial Cup committee — I don’t see that either the Greyhounds or the Generals have an advantage over one another when it comes to being the better option.
Depending on what side you are on — or anywhere in between — a case could be made for either of the Soo or Oshawa winning the bid to be the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament hosts.
Both teams should be competitive in 2020-2021. And whether they will be OHL championship caliber teams or not is somewhat irrelevant.
Remember the Windsor Spitfires of 2016-2017?
The Spitfires went into that season as the already determined Memorial Cup hosts. And despite posting a good regular season record of 41-19-8, Windsor finished fifth — yes, fifth — in the Western Conference of the OHL.
Not only that, the Spitfires then lost in the first round of the playoffs to the fourth-place London Knights. But then — in storybook fashion — after being on the sidelines for six weeks, Windsor would win the 2017 Memorial Cup by upending the OHL champion Erie Otters in the title tilt.
At any rate, the Greyhounds and Oshawa just have to convince the Memorial Cup committee that they will be competitively good in 2020-2021 to get a shot at playing host to — and participating in — the CHL championship tournament.
To be sure, a number of factors are part of any Memorial Cup bid and it will be up to representatives from both the Soo and Oshawa to convince the CHL committee which team — and city — is the better choice to play host to the national stage event.
And icing a competitive team will certainly play a role in the presentations.
Will the Soo have a good team in 2020-2021 after finishing in ninth place in the 10-team Western Conference in 2019-2020? Yes — but so too should at least five teams — Windsor, London, Erie, Flint Firebirds and Guelph Storm — that finished ahead of the Greyhounds in the Western Conference standings in 2019-2020.
Will Oshawa have a good team in 2020-2021 after finishing in third place in the 10-team Eastern Conference in 2019-2020? Yes — but so too should the two teams that finished ahead of the Generals in 2019-2020, the Ottawa 67s and Peterborough Petes. (And watch out for the Barrie Colts and Kingston Frontenacs as emerging teams from the Eastern Conference for the 2020-2021 season.)
The long and the short of it is that neither the Soo or Oshawa is poised to be a powerhouse OHL team in 2020-2021. But that doesn’t matter as one of them will be in next spring’s Memorial Cup tournament as the host team.
I am not going to get into who I think will — or should — win the bid to be the 2021 Memorial Cup hosts. After all, I live in Sault Ste. Marie and would love to see the city in which I reside play host to the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament.
May the best bid win. (It’s about as neutral as I can get.)