On the Penguins: World juniors tournament next target for Pittsburgh
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The Penguins wanted to play host to a Winter Classic.
They got it.
They were intent on staging a Frozen Four at Consol Energy Center.
They will do that April 11-13, 2013.
They would like to put on an NHL All-Star Game and an entry draft here, too, and they're on the waiting list for both.
But those are not the only major hockey events the team hopes to bring to the city's new arena.
CEO David Morehouse said the Penguins plan to seek a world under-20 championship -- better known as the world juniors -- in the near future. Indeed, he said, they could begin the process not long after the current tournament, which is being contested in Buffalo through Wednesday, wraps up.
"We'll put an application in after these juniors finish, I think," Morehouse said.
The world juniors usually are contested in Canada, northern European cities such as Stockholm and Helsinki or U.S. sites that are close to the Canadian border, such as Buffalo and Grand Forks, N.D.
The tournament has proven to be a money-loser in much of Europe, however, so it has been contested in North America with increasing regularity. It has developed into one of the major events of every sporting year in Canada, and a majority of the tickets for the competition in Buffalo have been purchased by Canadians.
Pittsburgh is close enough to Canada that diehard fans could travel down from there to take in the tournament, but Morehouse believes they would not be necessary to stage a successful event.
"The reason we would want to host a world juniors is that with the growth of hockey in Pittsburgh ... not just the Penguins and our success, but youth hockey in general has expanded," he said.
"There are a lot of talented kids coming out of Pittsburgh now who are playing in juniors, and we think the interest is there for Pittsburgh to host a world juniors. We think it's a great city for those types of events."
Although host cities are required to have a second facility at which games can be staged -- generally those featuring countries that are not big box-office draws -- one of the executives responsible for staging the tournament in Buffalo said the International Ice Hockey Federation was "very flexible on the secondary rink specifications."
Morehouse said the Penguins have not spoken with the IIHF about precisely what the requirements for that second venue are, but that he believes the Island Sports Center, home rink for Robert Morris University, might be satisfactory.
And there could be one other possibility for the secondary site.
"It depends on when we'd be awarded [a tournament]," Morehouse said. "But we've had discussions about building a practice rink, and, when we built the practice rink, we'd keep [the seating criterion] in mind as we did that."
Consol Energy Center, of course, is the only venue needed for the All-Star game or entry draft, and the Penguins are on record with the league as wanting one of each. Morehouse seems confident that will happen, although he is not sure when.
"We're one of, I'm sure, a handful of teams that have requested [an All-Star game], and we'll see what they say," he said. "Because of the new building, I think at some point, we'll get one. I'm not sure whether it will be next year or five years from now, but I think we'll have one."
The Penguins' interest in those events is no secret, and Morehouse said there is no need to lobby the league office to enhance the chances of being awarded one.
"I don't think it hurts to bug them, but you basically tell them that you're interested in hosting it," he said. "Then, when they get to a point where you're having serious discussions, you talk about hotel rooms and the reason the league has to put the game here."
Could be good practice for discussing an under-20 championship with the IIHF.
Wednesday -- Tampa Bay. OK, so that ill-considered chatter about Steven Stamkos being a better player than Sidney Crosby has faded, but Stamkos still is a terrific talent who is part of a talented and dangerous team.
Thursday -- at Montreal. Think the Penguins aren't still smarting from being upset by the Canadiens in Round 2 of the playoffs last spring? Think again.
Saturday -- Minnesota. No team gives the Penguins more fits at home than the Wild, which owns an all-time record of 5-1 here.
First Published January 2, 2011 12:00 am