The YoungStars Classic event in Penticton has been the official kickoff to the hockey season for fans in Western Canada but it won’t be happening this September.
Canucks Sports & Entertainment issued the following statement:
The Vancouver Canucks are grateful to the city of Penticton and its fans for their support of the annual Young Stars Tournament since its start in 2010. The tournament will not take place in 2019 due to a lack of participating NHL teams however, options for future Young Stars tournaments in Penticton continue to be explored.
The mini-tournament has been happening at the South Okanagan Events Centre since 2010.
This occured because the Winnipeg Jets had announced yesterday that they would be participating in the Rookie Showcase in Belleville with Ottawa and Montreal for next year:
Each team will play one another once, while OTT & WPG will play a second game against each other.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) February 13, 2019
Given that the Jets and the Canucks were the only teams competing in the event this past season, there just wasn’t any other teams committed for the event. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had been participants in the event for quite a few years in the past but decided to put on their own event in Alberta this last season. In part due to the Calgary Flames heading to China for exhibition games, they wanted to have everything closer to their home rink before making the cross-world trip and the Oilers took advantage of that. They may be exploring to do the same thing again.
It really is unfortunate that the event is not being put on in Penticton this year. As someone who has been to the event multiple times, it was always something to look forward to in the last few days of summer. It was a chance to see some future NHL’rs suit up for the first time and play some fantastic hockey in a great location.
From a community standpoint, the city of Penticton saw an influx of about $1.5M for the event, so it’s a big loss in that sense.
At this moment, there has been no word on what the Canucks plans are for their prospects this September. They could join the Flames and Oilers in Alberta (if it happens again) or make the trek down to the States and join the other Pacific teams in Rookie Faceoff they had this season. (which was held in Vegas)
Time will tell on what happens with how they handle getting their prospects into some game action before main training camp but at the very least we know that the YoungStars Classic won’t be happening this September.