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IIHF's Fasel aims to improve Montreal WJC attendance

by Mike Brophy /

TORONTO – IIHF president Rene Fasel said the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will likely be the third-best ever in terms of overall attendance.

"The numbers are not too bad, but the expectations were very high in Montreal," Fasel said.

Total attendance at the WJC in Ottawa in 2009 was 453,000, and the combined attendance in 2012 when the tournament was co-hosted by Edmonton and Calgary was 444,000. Fasel said he expects attendance from the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto to be between 365,000 and 385,000.

"It's not too bad," Fasel said. "Yesterday a game between Germany and Switzerland had 8,000 people. If you do that game in Finland you might draw 400 people. It is really a nice problem to discuss."

Fasel admitted there is concern ticket prices were too high in Montreal, where Canada games were not sold out as expected.

"I was really surprised," Fasel said. "If you did this type of pricing in Europe you would have nobody in the arena."

Fasel said the IIHF and Hockey Canada will hold discussions about how to improve attendance in Montreal when the tournament is again split between that city and Toronto in 2017. No Canada games are scheduled for Montreal in 2017 and Fasel said some of the games slated to be played there could be moved to Quebec City. His first choice, however, is to figure out a way to generate better attendance in Montreal.

The 2016 WJC will be held in Helsinki, Finland.

"Toronto and Montreal are the two hockey cities in the world," Fasel said. "I don't say which one is No. 1 and No. 2, but you can feel hockey in both cities."

Fasel was asked about NHL participation in future Olympic Games, and said the IIHF and the NHL first have to meet to talk about the holding a World Cup in 2016 first.

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