Blazers need to get better to win 2020 Memorial Cup host bid

By Earl Seitz
November 9, 2017 - 2:45pm Updated: November 9, 2017 - 6:02pm

KAMLOOPS — Hosting the 1995 Memorial Cup was another benchmark in the "we can do" attitude of Kamloops.

Now, a quarter of a century later, the feeling is the time is right to bring it back.

The Blazers are the first to throw their hat in the ring to bid to host the 2020 Memorial Cup.

"The encouragement from the city --- the business leaders --- everything seems to be pointing that it's time to go for this thing now." says majority owner Tom Gaglardi.

The 1995 Memorial Cup was at the height of the Blazers dynasty --- it's been a struggle to try to get back, or even come close to that.

Part of the bid process will be a promise to ice a Memorial Cup worthy team two seasons from now.

The building of any team starts with the bantam draft.

"We've had some misses, we're living through it right now ---- you miss in a draft year and it takes two or three years for that to work through your hockey program." says Gaglardi.

If the Blazers Memorial Cup bid is successful, they'll have two more seasons to get better than they are now.

Nine of the players on the roster this season are 17 year olds ---- another is 16 ---- in two years they'll be at the peak of their junior careers.

Coach Don Hay says "Continue to see development in the players who are here right now, like (16 year old) Connor Zary --- and put a plan together on what we'll need to improve the team."

Don Hay is soon to be the winningest coach in Western Hockey League history.

He's won three Memorial Cups as a head coach.

Is there time for another?

With a chuckle Hay says " Well that's a good question --- that's a long ways away right now."

Aaron Keller was a player on two of the Blazers Memorial Cup wins, including the one in his hometown in 1995.

After an 18 year pro playing career in Japan, Keller and his family recently relocated back to Kamloops --- he is now an assistant coach with the Blazers.

Says Keller "For me that was one of the coolest things of my life.  Growing up here, watching all the Blazers teams, all the players who had passed through here, and wearing the Blazers uniform -- playing in the national championship here at home was a dream come true for me."

Bids to host the 2020 Memorial Cup close in the spring ---- the Blazers will find out next October if their bid is successful in bringing the Memorial Cup tournament back to Kamloops.


Garand backstops Blazers over Rebels for win in first WHL start