As time goes along, more and more events will unfortunately need to be cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve already heard recently about the cancellation of Edmonton’s Fringe Festival and Folk Music Festival, and, in the coming days, we’re expected to hear the official cancellation of the Hlinka-Gretzky U18 Tournament.
“There has been no official word yet, but there’s expected to be in the next number of days, certainly within the week. The Ivan Hlinka-Wayne Gretzky Invitational Tournament that is scheduled for this August in Edmonton is going to be cancelled, there’s no doubt about that. There’s just too many logistical hurdles to ovecome. … For the NHL scouts, there goes the first big event on the 2021 draft scouting calendar.
We’re also going to keep an eye on Hockey Canada over the next couple of weeks. They usually have U17 camps at the end of August in preperation for November’s U17 World Championship and then there’s the World Junior Summer Showcase in August that usually goes in prep for the World Junior Championships at Christmas. Nothing official on that, but Hockey Canada is going to drill down on those dates over the next couple of weeks to see what can or can’t be done.”
The tournament had exclusively been held in the Czech Republic and Slovakia since 1997. In 2018, Hockey Canada and the Oilers Entertainment Group partnered to host three tournaments in Edmonton and Red Deer through 2022, alternating year by year with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The first Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and Red Deer in August 2018 was a success as 35,000 fans came to watch future stars like Alexis Lafreniere make his first major appearance on the international stage.
As McKenzie says, this is the first major event on the 2021 draft scouting calendar to be cancelled. Fans in Edmonton and Red Deer would have had a chance to watch local product Dylan Guenther and other potential top picks like Finland’s Aatu Raty and the Luke Hughes, the younger brother of Quinn and Jack Hughes.
Next up, we’ll turn our attention to the World Juniors, which is scheduled to be hosted between Edmonton and Red Deer after Christmas. Hopefully, that can go on as planned, but everything is in the air right now.