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Branch says he doesn't want either Barrie or London to have psychological edge in OHL final

By Ryan Pyette, The London Free Press

David Branch, Ontario Hockey League commissioner. (QMI Agency Files)

David Branch, Ontario Hockey League commissioner. (QMI Agency Files)

The London Knights and Barrie Colts will find out if they're heading to this year's Memorial Cup before they learn if either city is holding the next one.

The Ontario Hockey League has decided to delay the announcement of the 2014 Cup host until the end of the OHL final because two of the three bidders – London and Barrie – are playing in the championship series, which begins Friday night at Budweiser Gardens in London.

“We didn't want to detract from our league final,” OHL commissioner David Branch said. “That should be the focus. You have two of the three (Windsor, who missed the playoffs, is also bidding) still playing and we knew for a while that this could be a possibility.

“We had the start of May (as target to make a final decision), but we held a conference call with the site selection committee (last week) and we agreed it made the most sense to hold off.”

Branch, who is also the Canadian Hockey League president, said the decision to push back the date wasn't based on security or to avoid creating a threatening environment in a losing city's home rink.

London is trying to land the Cup for the second time in nine years. This is Barrie's fifth Cup bid and they have yet to be successful.

“We don't want one team to gain a psychological edge over the other in the final,” Branch said. “That's what we want to avoid. We're trying to protect the integrity of the game and our championship series.”

It just leaves less time for the winning bid to make arrangements to send its personnel out west to observe the 2013 tournament in Saskatoon.

Branch said this situation isn't any different than three years ago when Mississauga was awarded the 2011 Cup. Windsor and Barrie, who also submitted failed bids, played each other in the 2010 OHL final.

Branch said the site selection committee, which includes Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, has not reached a final decision on Cup host yet. They are using this extra time to “sort through all the factors."

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