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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

Is It Legit ?


By Fred Wallace


Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".

The Memorial Cup Championship Game on Sunday at Windsor was a dandy.

The host Spitfires claimed the Canadian Hockey League title with a come-from-behind-TWICE 4-3 victory over the Ontario Hockey League Champion Erie Otters.

The two Windsor-Erie games last week were great entertainment. Both the round robin matchup and the Championship Final had multiple swerves that were captivating to watch.

In the end, Windsor, as a team, was better than Erie. Twice.

And what I found most intriguing was the individual performances on Junior Hockey's biggest stage.

Some Spitfires, Jeremy Bracco & Gabriel Vilardi for example, were vastly better in this tournament than they were over the regular season, yet a number of generally steady Otters performed well below their capabilities, especially in the Championship Final.

...................Now, let the debate begin.

Can the Spitfires, who were eliminated in the FIRST ROUND of the OHL Playoffs by London, legitimately claim they are " champions ', when in reality they didn't beat anybody to get to the Championship Tournament ?

I tend to side with those who see this title as lacking legitimacy- the Spitfires bid, or bought, the right to host the event and fell far short of earning their way to Junior Hockey's prime event.

I felt that way when Ottawa won the Memorial Cup in 1999, and I recognize this is the risk that is encountered every single year under this format.

Still, while there will always be an asterisk attached in my view, you have to concede that Windsor was the best team in the tournament .

I'm Fred Wallace

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