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Team Canada players line up for the playing of the national anthem after defeating the USA 3-2 at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden on Tuesday December 31, 2013.

The Canadian Press

You'd think in a hockey-mad city there would be no particular need to drum up fan interest for a best-on-best international puck competition.

Not the case.

To mark 100 days until the opening of the World Junior Championships in Montreal, organizers held a news conference to talk up the tournament – ticket sales clearly haven't been as robust as originally hoped.

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"This is the Mecca of hockey," Mayor Denis Coderre told reporters at the media event (he was flanked by Canadiens owner Geoff Molson, Habs' assistant coaches Clement Jodoin and J.J. Daigneault and player development director Martin Lapointe among a good many others).

Coderre urged fans to snap up multiple-game packages to show "we're proud of our city, and we love hockey."

In fairness, the Montreal hockey public hasn't had the chance to attend a World Junior Championship since 1978, in that sense organizers are trying to create new habits.

It wasn't always thus; the Junior Canadiens were all the rage in the 1960s and early 1970s, major-junior clubs in Verdun and Laval were known to draw quite well throughout the 1980s and 90s.

But the most recent QMJHL entry to call the city home, the Montreal Juniors, lasted only three seasons before they folded in 2011. The franchise was reborn as the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, which plays its games in a faraway northern suburb.

Preliminary round games for the 2015 tournament will be played in Montreal – Canada will play its games at the Bell Centre – with the tournament shifting to Toronto for the medal round.

In 2017, the cities will switch roles.

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Tickets in Toronto quickly sold out when they went on sale in February, but organizers said a comparatively modest 60 per cent of the opening round packages are spoken for to this point (single game tickets are not yet on sale).

Some of that might have to do with organizers underestimating the need for advertising, or with sticker shock – two seats in a 13-game package, including all five Canada games, will run you between $898 and $3,928 – regardless, they'd rather not count on the city's tradition of drawing large walk-up crowds will again rear its head.

The obvious selling point for this year's tournament: it will almost certainly be the last chance Canadian hockey fans get to see presumptive 2015 first-overall draft pick Connor McDavid wear a Team Canada shirt as a junior.

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