Rebellious Cup Champs

By Jeff Bromley

Rebellious Cup Champs
As the Red Deer Rebels were crowned
Memorial Cup champions this past week
in Regina in a thrilling overtime victory
over the Val D’or Foreurs, I was
overcome with mixed emotions. On one
hand, the WHL had won the Memorial
Cup for the first time in three years. On
the other, it was the dreaded Rebels who
were carrying the hardware, and
deservedly so after being ranked the
number one club in the country for the
last eleven weeks of the season, but I
still found it difficult to garner any
feelings of elation for the Rebels. After
the heat I took for not towing the line
and pulling for the league representative
my stance has not wavered. Call me a
poor sport or whatever, but I still
couldn’t bring myself to do it. That
being said, congratulations are in order
for the Red Deer franchise. They are the
best club in the CHL and had the
deepest, most well-rounded roster of
any of the Memorial Cup teams. They
relied on talent, hard work reminiscent
of the Coach, G.M. and owner, Brent
Sutter and the rarely wavered from the
system Sutter instituted from the very
beginning. If there was ever a model to
building a Memorial Cup winner, the
Rebels are the latest example.

I did however have lots to cheer about
the actual tournament itself. From the
casual fans’ point of view who watching
on television and perhaps not as familiar
as the dedicated fan with the junior
game and what it has to offer, the week-
long tournament did the junior game
proud in promoting itself to the masses.
The week long television spectacle
proves that the major junior game
belongs there all season long. The CHL
has to once again renew its efforts that
the CHL be broadcast on a weekly basis
all season long, not just after the World
Junior Hockey Championship. Perhaps
the thought of segregating it by region
so that each league would gain equal
exposure each week should also be
stressed. The market is there, the
capability is there and the will is there.
It’s an idea whose time has come.

Biased Refs? -During and after the
Memorial Cup, the subject that always
seems to surface at each edition of the
championship again came to the
forefront, the officiating. This time
however the shoe was on the other foot
as last year it was the Kootenay ICE
faithful who were complaining about the
ineptitude of the QMJHL refs working
the cup last year in Halifax. This year for
the most part it was the QMJHL
representative Val D’or who was doing
most of the complaining after the cup
final saw the Foreurs victim of seven
minor calls to the Rebels two, including
a potentially weak Boarding minor call
against the Foreurs near the end of the
second frame that enabled the Rebels to
tie the game at five only seconds into the
third period. Whether the apparent bias
was present or not, and I don’t think
there was either in last year’s or this
year’s Memorial Cup as inept or
inexperienced they might be as they are
professionals, the CHL could eliminate
the perception of partiality simply by
using referees from the league not
playing (i.e., using the OHL top zebras
for the final of a QMJHL and WHL
teams and so on).

Say What? -In a related development
that could turn around and blow up in
the face of the CHL’s primed spectacle,
it has been reported that Rebels Coach
Brent Sutter had some choice words for
a Quebec journalist when he was asked
about the aforementioned refereeing.
Reportedly Sutter’s choice of profanity
was so bad it wasn’t printable for this
publication. Needless to say it rhymed
with puck and cough. The WHL is now
investigating the matter and Sutter has
since denied that he said anything of that
nature. I’ve interviewed Sutter and the
Rebel head man has always been
courteous and professional. Upon
hearing of the allegations, I immediately
hoped that they were unfounded. Other
reporters in the scrum stated that Sutter
didn’t utter any slurs to the French
Radio reporter at all. Hopefully it’s just
a big misunderstanding.

MVP -The choice for MVP of the
tournament in Kyle Wanvig was a
surprise for me. I thought the Calgary
native played a great tournament but
usually those that make the selection
tend to go with the bigger name players
such as a Justin Mapletoft, Brandon
Reid or Simon Gamache, even thought
the latter two were from the losing club.
Wanvig is a pleasant surprise and
deserved of the honor even though most
Kootenay ICE fans haven’t forgiven him
for demanding a trade from the club last
season that boiled down the ICE
receiving Zdenek Blatny.

Tory Compensation – The WHL
announced the ICE will receive Tri-
Cities’ 2nd Round pick in 2002 Bantam
Draft for the Americans signing the
former ICE G.M. Also included in the deal is the switch of first and second round European Draft picks. The ICE will receive Tri-Cities’ second pick in the first round (via Lethbridge) and the Americans will receive Kootenay’s first round selection.