Canada’s domestic sporting scene has been abuzz lately with news of the launch of the Canadian Premier League, and its promise to bring top-level soccer to cities across the country. However, another new league will be launching later this month and promising to bring an internationally-popular sport to the country, and in fact to revive its original national sport.
From coast to coast, hockey’s religious status across Canada is unquestioned. Storied clubs and a long history can be found in every city and town, but if there is one place that could truly be called hockey’s heartland, it must be Saskatchewan.
Combine the cross-Canadian appeal of the football’s Grey Cup with the Canadian love for hockey, and throw in a hearty dose of appreciation for Canadian military history, and you have one very Canadian combination. Consider that this combination exists in trophy form, and that said trophy has been hoisted 99 times by Canada’s junior hockey champions, and place the hundredth edition of the storied tournament in the heartland of the country, and you have one epic occasion to celebrate a century of junior hockey in the country.
The Canadian Premier League, rumoured for some time, reached the major milestone earlier this month of unveiling the first clubs to play. For months, speculation has been rampant about which cities would form the first cadre of CPL locations, with occasional leaks and comments made by the league executives, comprising several successful Canadian businessmen. Finally, this month, the league announced they would unveil each of the rumoured 8-10 founding teams at the rate of one a week.
When the arena isn’t full, the FirstOntario Centre is a decent place to watch very, very good hockey being played in the centre of a lively and growing city. When full, the atmosphere is unsurpassed and will sweep any casual fan up in it. The proximity to both Toronto and the American border, combined with plenty to do, make Hamilton a great stop on the sporting calendar and continued success might make the Bulldogs the stable hockey team the city has wanted for so long.
Hockey fans in Mississauga look to finally have found some stability, but there is lots of room to grow until the seats are always filled. Hershey Centre is a great place to catch a well-run hockey team and is an excellent introduction to the OHL for hockey fans in Toronto. Although the road to permanency continues to be rocky, Mississauga is settling in more every year as a great place to catch a game and support the local club, and fans continue to say “don’t doubt the trout.”