With the biggest tournament in the Under 20 league about to get started in Buffalo, NY I can't help but realize how is it the area is not banking on it anymore than they already are.
I am from the area and as I sit at home during the holiday break getting set to watch all the up and coming players play I can't help but think why does it seem the people up north are more interested in the tournament than the thousands of hockey fans that live in the area.
Yet in an article that was featured in a special World Juniors section, Bucky Gleason was saying how the "hockeytown" of Buffalo is like the "Suburb of Toronto, Ontario." My only objection is if the area is like Toronto then why are they just passing by when it comes to the World Juniors.
The tournament is a big deal for many reasons, it gives NHL scouts to look at up coming players from colleges and other countries for possible selections in the NHL draft. It also gives fans a chance to look at what their team has drafted. Point in case the Buffalo Sabres with Kassian playing for the Canadian team.
With the area being so close to Canada the U.S. vs. Canada game has a lot riding on it. It is a big rivalry and will showcase a great game as Canada looks to avenge the defeat they suffered in the gold game from last year.
Yes, I did watch it last year thanks to the NHL Network who will be showing the games again this year. I love to learn about the upcoming stars and who knows someone like the next Forsberg or Gretzky could be in my "backyard" playing. But the ticket sales along with overall talk of the tournament is a bit lackluster in the area.
2/3rds of the tickets have been bought by Canadians and aside from hockey pucks that represent the different countries I have yet to see any World Juniors merchandise. This raises a big question to me, is Buffalo a real hockeytown or is it no one cares about the sport unless its the Sabres?
In my opinion the area is a hockeytown, growing up I remember playing hockey almost everyday and we bleed the sport. With that said I have to admit I am disappointed the area hasn't banked on the event with more enthusiasm for the event, they talked about how it would bring millions to the area with hotelrooms and other attractions but include the experience of souvenoirs.
I truly hope the area prospers from the event and I am looking forward to watching hockey but I'm not sure that the area planned well and stayed organized for an event they knew they would be hosting for the past year. It might come down to just money and if so then thats sad. The World Juniors is great for these young players to show their skill and build on their potential hockey career and I would hate to see that get taken away because some big shot wants to make a few extra bucks.