Montreal Canadiens Prospect Kaiden Guhle Eliminated From Memorial Cup Due To Last Minute Format Change

KENT, WASHINGTON - JUNE 07: Kaiden Guhle (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)
KENT, WASHINGTON - JUNE 07: Kaiden Guhle (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens prospect Kaiden Guhle had a tremendous season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was dealt there at the WHL’s trade deadline for a package of picks and prospects and proved to be wroth every piece.

The Prince Albert Raiders may benefit down the road from the trade, but the Oil Kings became kings of the Western Hockey League thanks to Guhle. Edmonton won the title with an incredible 16-3 record in the postseason.

Guhle scored 25 points in 25 regular season games with the Oil Kings and then added 16 more points in their 19 playoff games. He was a dominant two-way force throughout the postseason and was named WHL Playoffs MVP.

The gave his team the honour of heading to the Memorial Cup tournament this week as the WHL representative. Little did they know that a last minute rule change would result in their season ending earlier than expected.

The event has existed for over 100 years and has used a few different formats in that time. It has been a tournament format since 1972 and always awarded two points for a win and zero points for a loss no matter how long the games took.

Since 1983 there have been four teams in the event each year, with the teams all playing each other in a round robin. Recently, the top team after the round robin went straight to the final, the second ranked team went to the semifinal and there would be a tiebreaker game between the third and fourth seeds if they both won a game.

If a team ever went 0-3 in the round robin, there was no need for a tiebreaker so the second and third seeds would go straight to the semifinal.

This year, on the afternoon of Game 1 of the Memorial Cup, major changes were announced to the format of the event. Instead of all games resulting in one team getting two points for a win and zero points for a loss, even if they played three overtimes, there would be loser points for the first time.

A regulation win was suddenly worth three points, an overtime win worth two and an extra time loss, which was now to be played at 3-on-3 would be worth a single point.

When the dust settled on the round robin portion of this year’s event, the Edmonton Oil Kings were sent packing their bags to head back out west. That’s in spite of winning their second game of the tournament, 3-2 in overtime over the host Saint John Sea Dogs, who have already punched their ticket to the final.

In any other year, the one win Oil Kings would be playing tomorrow in a tiebreaker game against the one win Hamilton Bulldogs. However, since the Oil Kings win was in overtime this year they only get two points and the Bulldogs finished with three. That means there is no tie to break so Edmonton is eliminated and the Bulldogs move on to face the Cataractes in the semifinal.

There is not really anything wrong with this format, nor was there anything horrible about the previous one. The Oil Kings and Sea Dogs 3-on-3 overtime was probably the most exciting period of hockey in the tournament.

It is just that the timing of the rule change was odd. Literally six hours before the first game was to  be played, organizers announced pretty major changes to the event.

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