Hockey's Hot in Tampa: City Bids for World Juniors in 2018
Tampa Bay is going for an event-hosting hat trick of sorts.
The area has captured a Stanley Cup and a Frozen Four. Now, it's going for an IIHF World Junior Championship.
The Lightning, of course, brought the region a Stanley Cup title in 2004, and the area was justifiably proud. Among other things, it was an unexpected triumph in a so-called non-traditional hockey market.
Then, in 2012, Tampa hosted the NCAA Frozen Four, which was considered a rousing success by all involved, to the extent that the region was just awarded another one, to occur in 2016. This was no surprise to current Lightning coach Jon Cooper:
So it shouldn't be a surprise that Tampa is now throwing its figurative hat in the rink to host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Formal bids won't take place until 2015, so the Tampa Sports Commission is currently laying the groundwork to pull off another coup. Given its track record these days, perhaps securing the event wouldn't be as much of an upset as Finland's overtime victory over heavily-favored Sweden in the just-completed 2014 WJC. By all accounts, executive director Rob Higgins is the man for the job.
While the indelible images of this New Year's NHL Winter Classic left hockey traditionalists all warm and fuzzy, Tampa and other southern cities are showing North America that the game can also be successful in warm and surfy climates.
In 2018, they may have a chance to show the world.